Friday, December 10, 2010

Evgeny Morozov : Predicting the future of WikiLeaks: Follow the media!

Via FP | NetEffect (excerpt):

But cynical as I am, I also wonder how much global appetite there exists for stories about corruption in Azerbaijan, Moldova or Mauritania. I suspect that Assange is bound to run into the same global attention problem that Ethan Zuckerman has been trying to tackle for a while now: it's not easy to get people to care about what's happening in far-away and exotic lands -- and certainly not about their complex politics. I don't think that the greater availability of classified information, even when backed up by superb technology for anonymous leaking, would substantially change the amount of attention that global audiences are willing to expend on understanding Azerbaijan or Moldova.

Thus, we should not get carried away: the reason why there is so much hype about the cables right now is because they implicate the United States, a country that everyone loves to hate. I bet cables written by diplomats from, say, Cambodia would be barely noticed by the global media. The United States is unique here because it is clearly the only country that has a stake virtually in every part of the globe, so every cable counts. Now, how many cables from Cambodian diplomats in Macedonia can one really read without falling asleep? Probably none: most people don't care enough about Cambodia, let alone its foreign policy interests in the Balkans.
I clearly don't think that the story of WikiLeaks is nearing its end with the full release of all the cables. I know for a fact that Assange has been thinking about the kind of relationship that WikiLeaks needs to have with their media partners for years. I suspect his thinking has evolved quite a bit this year, not least because WikiLeaks has become a media's darling after spending a few years in relative obscurity.

Whatever strategy Assange chooses to pursue, I don't think it's possible to get the future of WikiLeaks right without first addressing the media relationship piece of the puzzle.

Read the whole thing here.

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