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Joshua Rhys Taliesin O'Madadhain

the motives and philosophy of Julian Assange (Wikileaks)

Joshua Rhys Taliesin O'Madadhain


the motives and philosophy of Julian Assange (Wikileaks)

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science, social scientist, mad

I haven't entirely decided what I think about what Wikileaks has been doing, but this is an interesting look into, and analysis of, what Assange has been trying to accomplish via these leaks.

Of minor professional interest to me: apparently either Assange is not familiar with the terminology of social networks, or he thinks that his audience isn't (possibly fair). Apparently his strategy is an interesting complement to (or inversion of) the US counterterrorism social-network-based strategy, i.e., attempting to disrupt networks by identifying and removing key actors. Instead, Assange is apparently trying to disrupt the network by making the network itself--that is, the connections that make it something other than a collection of individuals--suspect, or at least less efficient.

EDIT: I do look forward to seeing what David Brin (_The Transparent Society_) has to say about this; I'll be watching http://davidbrin.blogspot.com to see when he posts something.

This entry was originally posted at http://jrtom.dreamwidth.org/299611.html. Please comment there using OpenID.
  • Assange's motives are nothing less than revolutionary.

    I don't think it's going to work, but I'm for it.
    • I agree that he's trying to accomplish a revolution of sorts. I'm not sure that I agree with his ultimate ends, in part because I'm not entirely clear on what those are, and I'm concerned that he may be too much of an anarchist for me.

      Plus, I'm not really in favor of increasing the level of interpersonal distrust (as distinct from skepticism, which is generally healthy).
      • The ultimate goal, if I read him correctly, is the downfall of entire global nation-state apparatus.

        I'm all for that, even as I'm pretty sure it will never happen.
        • What would you expect (or want) to take its place?
          • Well, we're talking utopias now, and I know as well as the next person that they just don't happen, human nature being what it is. But with that as a given, I'd love to see what would happen in a world built on openness, integrity, trust and cooperation.
            • Human nature is not the only problem; part of the problem is that getting to a utopian state--that is, making the transition--is difficult.

              In any case, it's not clear to me why you think that the 'downfall of the...nation-state' would enable 'a world built on openness, [etc.]'. Nor, for that matter, why you think that nation-states are incompatible with any of those qualities.
              • Part of what I'd get rid of, if I were Queen of the World, are the imaginary borders and boundaries we've divided the planet into. I think they no longer serve us well. (Imagine a world where we were all free to travel wherever we liked, sans passports - hell, sans TSA - for instance.) That would require wiping away the map of nation-states and starting over without one. It's not going to happen; it might not even prove workable if it did. But it does make for some interesting thought-experiments, and rambling, late-night, boozy conversations...

  • It read to me like he's describing graph theory to people who don't know the difference between a graph and a bar chart.

    And, yes, it really is a neat approach, though I think what makes it unique is that this is a case of a "powerless", in the traditional sense, actor making edge traversal in the "conspiracy graph" more costly for the powerful. There are plenty of examples of cops, the FBI, &c having a pretty easy time increasing the cost of edge traversal for graphs they care about; getting a wiretap isn't that hard, so the drug dealers move to using burners, which works but imposes some additional inconvenience, &c.

    Actually, it's more than just making it more costly for the powerful -- it's making it more costly for the powerful natives. Encryption arguably made it harder for authorities to see what was traversing certain social networks, but those authorities were interlopers. Wikileaks is giving the establishment a hard time on its own turf, and this is unusual.
    • Re: graph theory--yeah, basically. Although I would say "social network analysis" rather than "graph theory" (since he brings in some concepts from social network analysis that aren't really part of graph theory)...but I digress. :)

      I am amused by the fact that Assange's characterization of groups in a social network appears to imply that any such grouping is a conspiracy.

      I guess one question that I don't feel that Assange has really answered to my satisfaction is what value there is in frank communication between members of an organization...and what is lost when that sort of candid communication is lost.

      You make an interesting point about "giving the establishment a hard time on its own turf" as being unusual. I have a feeling that I can come up with additional examples of same, but I could be wrong (and that wouldn't make it usual, necessarily, I grant).
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