Wikileaks and Napster

A politician holds public office, not private office. Just saying.

https://twitter.com/#!/nambulous/status/15215655821246464

The public discussion is really, again, neglecting the actual and much more fascinating issue. Checking out the way, in which the government is at least fantasizing about crushing it all, it appears they are somewhat aware of the possible future, but even so, this is not what is debated over. What am I referring to? Wikileaks releasing confidential data isn’t just about anyone releasing confidential data. It’s a try to restore checks and balances through a free flow of information, like newspapers once were supposed to, but all too often no longer do. But that’s still just the obvious point. What’s really on my mind, and everyone should think about, is how Wikileaks is the proof of concept, that “it” works. The dam has been broken. If they can do it, more people can do it from now on. That’s why governments are anxious to find some law that can be bent to construe something that will stick – not just to Wikileaks, but to any similar organization that might show up the road. If they can come up with something that sounds legal, it will always be waiting and will be used every time a similar situation arises. I really think that Wikileaks might just be, what Napster was 10 years ago for media and the distribution of such content. Both cases are about commodities that once could only distributed by certain groups, who also had complete control over them. But Napster and its descendants didn’t require people to still go in certain shops to buy music, everyone could decide on his own, what he wanted to do with the stuff. With Wikileaks nobody needs to have good connections to media empires to get the word out. Consumers don’t need to blindly believe everything a newspaper says, because they can go and check out the sources (traditionally only available to the author himself), the articles were based on, themselves. Again, the/another power base is gone (or at least weakened), the control is lost and it’s not gonna return (fantastic for everyone who didn’t wield that power in the first place). But other than with simple music/video/…, the flow of such information enables the average citizen to learn what his government is really up to and how some crises actually came to be – the knowledge necessary to form a proper opinion. This can have an impact and long term effect on entire societies, real progress, by letting people in power know, that they could be accountable, if they are found out – this is what actual democracies are supposed to be about. This is democracy. Anyone working to stop that, should stop for a second and reflect what his doing. Only people (hopefully) have privacy, not governments and corporations – those have secrets. Such concentrations of power need transparency.
Don’t buy into some bullshit, that “trust” has been broken, or that this would be some bad thing in itself. It’s not. Having 2 million people have access to these cables should raise the question if such information shouldn’t have been public in the first place. Such a vast amount of people can’t keep a secret anyway. It’s rather an example, that even the biggest crap is supposed to be secret, for no other reason than to have as little publicly known as possible.
In the end, Napster was destroyed. But the P2P idea endured. It had no effect on the sharing, in the contrary. Today there is more filesharing going on then ever and the software to do it was never better. Some changes can neither be stopped, nor be undone once out. Simply irreversible. I’m not saying Wikileaks shouldn’t survive (I hope they do for several reasons), but this survival of this idea isn’t tied to one specific platform. Never was, this concrete site was just the one that made it popular.

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