Peep Insights: Wikileaks And The Future Of Media

The flash conference put on by Personal Democracy Forum(PDF) was stirred by a “hinge moment for numerous issues,” raised by Wikileaks.

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The flash conference put on by Personal Democracy Forum(PDF) was stirred by a “hinge moment for numerous issues,” raised by Wikileaks. Experts and luminaries in diplomacy, academia, and journalism sparked a dialogue, breaking into the top twitter trending topics and 2,000 viewers in its first hour of streaming. Panelists were asked to discuss four topics as varied as their backgrounds, from valuating the Internet, to the importance of trust and transparency in different private and public institutions. The talks were aimed to review the importance of how media evolves in a digital age, inclusive of free speech. The spark point of Wikileaks gave way to questions examining the new landscape of the digital age and how the innovation of the Internet applies to the world of media. Jeff Jarvis called to action a review of rights in a new age. “We need a point of reference, a bill of rights . . . Assange is part of it but we need to go beyond leaks and talk about the structure of peer to peer exchange.” Web 2.0 has lasted well beyond its fledgling expiration date. More people turn to mobile and online sources than radio and newspaper combined (Pew, 2010).

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Trust has been instilled in the flow of information from new outlets. Carne Ross commented, “If government didn’t lie, Wikileaks wouldn’t be as potent.” News outlets, that model themselves after Wikileaks, will gain the lost trust that was garnered by the watchdog media. “You’ve heard of voting with your feet? The sources are voting with their leaks. If they trusted the newspapers more, they would be going to the newspapers,” said Jay Rosen, NYU professor and media critic. Mark Pesce talked about how the record companies had to struggle with the flow of information and restructuring their business as consumers bridled the flow of information away from institutions. “These are birthing pains,” Gideon Litchfield, Deputy editor for The Economist, commented on the pendulum swinging of a radically new for of media. “Is there black and white answer here, (no) it’s a red hearing. Other organization will spring up and learn from Wikileaks failure.” During the open forum panelist and audience members raised questions about the legitimacy of hacktivism and groups like Anonymous in support of free speech. Panelist and audience member called the DDoS attack the digital age equivalent of a sit-in. Dave Winer, NYU scholar, critiqued the stability of 1st amendment speech under private service providers, where site hosting services from Amazon.com can no longer be trusted to ensure freedom of speech to journalist or bloggers.

Although each speaker had more than 140 characters to say, the flurry of information was only a “byte” of larger conversations everyone was alluding to. Many great questions were raised, which ultimately left an unfulfilling laissez faire feeling that already clings to the Internet. PDF promoted their upcoming conference, but with so much discussion of public forum and peer information exchange we will have to see how the Internet citizenry will adopt to this restructuring of media and journalism.

Contributed by Wesley Robison

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