the banality of cyberpunk, short notes on wikileaks

a year ago wikileaks was as known as any other hacker project on the
chaos computer congress in berlin. its organizers which you remember
only by surname were talking about technical and organisational
issues, smoking a joint and gathering collaborators and co-developers.
like often german or swedish hackers were running the backend of this
project. they like the technocratic part where organisation and code
goes together. here is where wikileaks has its center, and the idea of
it was rather a channel, a protocol, or a p2p network to allow more
transparency in information. the opposite movement against closing
down on information which belongs to the public, and a direct result
of a cyberpunk worldview, where an oligarchy of  a few corporations
runs the world.

the current hype arround Assange can be seen as a result of an
interface phenomena between different systems of public discourse. the
internet vs. old media (print, television etc.). the man of the year
is voted by a print magazine indeed. its vote is usually tweaked by an
anonymous community of script kiddies. (4chan). the roles are given
but the stage for the unfolding performance is not the internet but
old media, feeding back into the ip grid. stardom, heroism, reduction
of messages, antagonism of opinion, escalation of emotions. who is to
be blamed? is the openness of the internet evil or the hirarchies of
old mass media the source of all sorrough?

wikileaks itself can only coexist with the interface phenomena of
being discussed and constructed in all its ambivalence as a source of
information and a destructor of proper truth. certainly it does not
replace the work of a journalist, but it changes the game insofar,
that the way of dealing with sources becomes an much more open market.
wikileaks had a way of timing, and queing up its "information bombs"
in a pipeline of auctioning off its material to the news agencies,
newspapers and tv stations of the world. it has become a news agency
in itself, specialised to deliver material for the investigative
journalism which is in sharp decline already, insofar it fills an
existing information gap and public demand for scandal. its profiting
in terms of the attention economy from trading the information culture
of the internet against the one of "old mass media".

in fact wikileaks marks a point where the internet itself has almost
entirely replaced old media as the dominant media apparatus which
shapes public opinion. television and print is merely running in
virtual emulation mode on top of IP based networks, generating a
hysteria of self-distinction, and with it other social systems which
have a similar organisational structure and restricted information
flow. (the military, the government)

everybody should be able to admit that wikileaks wasnt releasing
anything which wasn't known already in one or the other way, or
existed as a persistant suspicion. (war crimes, double speak in
diplomacy, nonethical behaviour along the power chain) the finger
pointing reflex is one of old media, the double standards of public
opinion and tacit opportinuism of all day collusion and corruption
derives its power from restricted information flows. wikleaks is no
exception: no goldman and sachs emails were released, no data which
would prove who was really profiting from the last financial meltdown:
which dynasties, which networks, and which institutions. nobody was
really hurt. wikileaks is in itself an instrument to direct attention
away from the real explosive information which would not help to
change history, but to allow history to happen again.

hackers themselves are not really able to answer the question of
secrecy. how to define a private network? how is a hacker group
different from a corporation? what defines the good interest, and how
the white hat operator legitimizes himself compared to the black hat
with sinistre self-interest (and what about the grey hats)? which
institutions are evaluating these information actions? which
constitutions or codes of conduct define common ground? the journalism
of big media hubs and information filters such as amnesty or green
peace are probably needed to filter out the growing pile of disinfo,
but they are yet another agency easy to corrupt.

mixing disinformation with secrets is a strategy of the intelligence
community long before the introduction of digital encryption machines.
their involvements in the wikileaks media theatre can be taken for
granted. it takes insider experts to read between the lines. countless
spy stories are made of it.

in terms of a general media choreography the wikileaks debate marks a
point in history where history might begin to get going, after it was
stuck for 10 years in a time whole of disinformation and spin
doctoring, numb and blind between 9/11 and artificial economic growth,
cultural corruption and the dissolvement of traditional power
structures and institutions of public discourse. a moment where a
certain distopic science fiction genre is indistinguishable from whats
being printed on the front page of newstickers. a plane of immanence
where imagination and the real correlates into the hyperreal, a
postmodern mass psychology of the banality of the evil, in small
digestible dosises.

wikileaks promises a certain risk which comes with open communication.
no more heroes, everyone can be a loser tomorrow. the power might be
in a hand of a few, an artificial intelligence, the aliens, or just
the stock market. a time where the revolution has already happened,
but you are not allowed to mention it. where most of the relevant
information is still off the grid, and a hysterical public opinion
simulates democratic willpower along lukewarm truths and austrialian
information freedom warriors high on testosterone.


by Pit Schultz on Thursday, December 16, 2010 at 4:33pm


#  distributed via <nettime>: no commercial use without permission
#  <nettime>  is a moderated mailing list for net criticism,
#  collaborative text filtering and cultural politics of the nets
#  more info:
#  archive: contact: