In an information economy, the currency is attention.
It appears this morning Wikileaks.org was censored for publishing the United States diplomatic cables leak last week. Under pressure from Senator Joe Leiberman, Amazon Web Services, who were hosting the site, pulled the plug.
Wikileaks is no more.
Oh, no, there it is.
WikiLeaks is a conduit. It is a tool that allows people to anonymously and securely leak information. It ostensibly makes whilstleblowing less dangerous and more likely. WikiLeaks is not a newspaper, with an editor and journalists and ad sellers.
A popular tweet from John Perry Barlow ripples across the internet.
The first serious infowar is now engaged. The field of battle is WikiLeaks. You are the troops.
It seems the most pressing issue of concern is internet censorship: The New York Times is in the same position as WikiLeaks. Other countries involved in the scandal simply censor the internet. That's what the US government is now trying to do. In the UK, Wikileaks partnered with The Guardian. There's little to suggest the leaked information would have come directly to The Guardian, rather than through the Wikileaks conduit.
In any case, what a fundraising opportunity! The need is great. The issues are emotional. There is global attention. In an information economy, when you are at the centre of a global arguement about the internet, government censorship, and freedom of speech - you're the money. Some people are boycotting Amazon for caving in to pressure from the US gov.
Of course, the fascinating question is whether censorship in this case, really has any chance of succeeding. It is likely to bolster massive support for WikiLeaks, give it financial and legal muscle, and win the hearts of free people everywhere ;-)
You can download all the WikiLeaks site via BitTorrent, which you might want to do as a matter of principle or protest.
Wikileaks needs to replicate itself and it's information and grow. That will take money. Communites of fundraisers are undoubtedly snapping into action at this moment. Datacell has pitched in hosting a donation page for Wikileaks. People can also donate here to Wikileaks. And here is a comprehensive list of WikiLeaks mirror sites. That's a bunch more sites to shut down.
I began writing about the closure of WikiLeaks because it was exciting and fascinating. There's much at stake. Hard lessons will be learned. But then I watched some raw footage, evidence from Iraq, of a helicopter machine gunning a small group of photographers - people carrying cameras, people like me - and then machine gunning the ambulance that came to pick them up! It's easy for the public conversation about the issue to slide into trivial diplomatic embarassments, as if anonymous, secure publishing of evidence were akin to paparazzi. The issues are fairly self-evident.
I saw the video I mention above on a WikiLeaks mini-site containing evidence around this particular video: "5th April 2010 10:44 EST WikiLeaks has released a classified US military video depicting the indiscriminate slaying of over a dozen people in the Iraqi suburb of New Baghdad -- including two Reuters news staff."