The Wikileaks controversy is a great opportunity for an impact of new media case study. Here’s why:
- It crosses platforms, from the interwebs to press and broadcast media;
- it’s one of those plus ça change things: there is nothing happening on Wikileaks that hasn’t happened before with photocopiers and/or CD ROMs etc.;
- it highlights the culture clash between the “information wants to be free” web culture and traditional authority;
- it’s a sign of the globalised times – although these are US cables, they involve the whole globe, and involve both national governments and large, powerful corporations like Shell Oil;
- the cyber-attacks on Wikileaks to try to take the site down have been met with retaliatory attacks against credit card companies and PayPal – are we at the beginning of the First World Cyber War?
If you’ve ever read any science fiction, you know that this Cyber War thing doesn’t end well. Say goodbye to civilisation.
Here’s John Naughton in The Guardian:
And as the backlash unfolds – first with deniable attacks on internet service providers hosting WikiLeaks, later with companies like Amazon and eBay and PayPal suddenly “discovering” that their terms and conditions preclude them from offering services to WikiLeaks, and then with the US government attempting to intimidate Columbia students posting updates about WikiLeaks on Facebook – the intolerance of the old order is emerging from the rosy mist in which it has hitherto been obscured. The response has been vicious, co-ordinated and potentially comprehensive, and it contains hard lessons for everyone who cares about democracy and about the future of the net.