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Dec 3, 2010

WikiLeaks -- time for a register

What is required now is a sign up registry for the two complete logs (with Cablegate still to come), by which media outlets, journo schools and individual groups could sign up to cover manageable chunks of the material, and then link back whatever work they get out of it, to the register.

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The first four stories on the UK news tonight were all either created by, or transformed by, the WikiLeaks Cablegate releases.

The governor of the Bank of England has been revealed as no benign public servant, but a player, trying to push the incoming government towards a harsher, more purely Thatcherite economic policy, and worried that they lacked the guts to do it; the Sri Lankan President was greeted with a huge demonstration supercharged with revelations of government involvement in massacres of Tamils; the “special relationship” is being battered by revelations of non-reciprocity on extradition, spy flyovers and the like; and even the separate news of Russia’s winning the 2018 World Cup was set in the context of its utter corruption — something that many people now felt they knew as much about as the elite, dictating the policy we should take towards them.

How long this will go on no-one knows. But while it does, power relations are being subtly transformed in ways that may have effects for some time to come. Once WikiLeaks manage to secure service, and eventually place the Cablegate logs online, there will be three huge volumes — the Iraq logs, the Afghan logs and Cablegate — which effectively constitute an alternative history of the present.

But simultaneous to that begins the third level, which is the gradual and systematic interpretation and synthesis of it. WL has done some of this already, data-mining for comprehensive body counts etc, and groups all over the world are taking separate chunks of it, but what is required now is a sign up registry for the two complete logs (with Cablegate still to come), by which media outlets, journo schools and individual groups could sign up to cover manageable chunks of the material, and then link back whatever work they get out of it, to the register.

The register — which could have multiple indices, so that for example the Afghan log register could be sorted alphabetically, by zone, by event type, etc, as the log itself is — would not be prescriptive or exclusive. Multiple people could sign up for the same patch if they wanted, but the effect would be for people to sign up for blank spots and fill it out.

From that register, a second level interpretation and synthesis would come, of thousands of reports in different forms — and they would in term form the platform for a third level whereby meta-analyses and studies could be done. These would include cross-referencing between the different logs, to build up a larger picture.

Quite possibly, I’ll now be told there is such a thing, and pointed to it.

If there is, it’s not clearly visible. And if it were done, not everyone would wish to openly be a part of it. But it strikes me that it’s the essential corollary to creating a countervailing informational power, which is WikiLeaks aim. Effectively a multiply-sourced, alter-interpretation would start to reframe reality in ways that “critique” itself is not able to do.

The abysmal nature of mirrors troubles us. All will be Tlon.

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