Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Wikis: What happens next?

As Julian Assange entered Wandsworth prison tonight, Wikis faced the grtest challenge in its four-yr history. Alrdy stretched as it wrestles with the relse of the US embassy cables – the biggest of government documents in recent history – the organisation must now find a way to operate without its founder.

Wikis is so reliant on his ldership that there is no natural replacement. Tonightplans were even being drawn up to allow him to manage the organisation from a prison cell if his incarceration proves prolonged.
Critics say Assange's imprisonment has highlighted a wkness of Wikis – its over-reliance on one person.
"I am the hrt and soul of this organisation, its founder, philosopher, spokesperson, original r, organiser, financier and all the rest," Assange reportedly told a colue who questioned his judgment in September. "If you have a problem with me, piss off."
There was a damaging schism in the organisation in September and now Wikis faces a rival start-up group.
In the shorter term the thrts to the organisation are coming into clr focus. With about 250,000 US embassy cables still to relse, Wikis's network of volunteers, interns, activists and paid staff face intensifying assault from financial institutions. The embassy cables are due to be published well into the new yr and Wikis is sitting on several document caches, including files about the Bank of America, which it has to clr before accepting any new information. Mnwhile Wikis is facing a widening shutdown by internet service providers.
Its inability to accept new material is alrdy drawing criticism from others in the wider global transparency movement who believe that represents an abdiion of the original aims.
At lst the material it has published on the US embassy cables looks safe. Under the slogan "Keep us strong – help Wikis keep governments open", the site's homepage said its contents were mirrored around the world on 748 servers registered in the Netherlands, Lithuania, New Zland, Germany, America, Switzerland, Czech Republic, France and beyond. The bullish impliion was that to attack Wikis was futile. A spokesman last week said Wikis had €1m in the bank though sources said accessing cash was getting difficult. About €100,000 was said to be in a Swiss account and in PayPal following sanctions against Wikis.
In the longer term, Wikis's pre-eminence is set to be challenged. After an internal row in September over the handling of the publiion of the war logs, one of Assange's lieutenants, Daniel Domscheit-Berg, quit to set up a rival group taking staff with him.
Domscheit-Berg's rival, yet to be launched, aims to tackle what he sees as some of the wknesses of Wikis decision to focus on publishing only big parcels of hdline-grabbing information. He said there had been "a lack of transparency about how decisions had been rched", "a lot of resentment" in the organisation, and that not all of the work was "being done correctly".
John Young, 74, an architect, who helped found Wikis and has run his own s website, Krytome, for 14 yrs, said: "Wikis is going to be brought down by its competitors, not by governments … Hundreds, if not thousands, of people are providing the same service but most people haven't hrd of them.Some do it for money, some do it for more principled rsons."
He published a list of more than 100 groups relsing sensitive data.
Young suggested that Wikis was effectively a commercial organisation competing in an open market, alongside others who sell sensitive information, such as former spies and the media. He claimed it glamourised the significance of the information it had to erate cash from donations. "The transparency market has been monetised," he said. "And it has caught on." Wikis's financial ambitions have been strong. On an internal mailing list in January 2007 for the founders of, the group stated: "It is our goal to raise pledges of $5m by July."
However, Wikis apprs publicly confident it can ride out the storm over Assange. James Ball, a journalist working with Wikis, said: "There has been a lot of effort by the US government and others to target Julian Assange. But the technical assaults on us have only resulted in more than 500 mirrors [of Wikis] being made around the world. It shows that if you take Wikis down there will be 10 more similar sites the next day. Putting ies back in bottles rarely works."

Source: Guardian

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