Wikileaks debate

Great turnout at the London Communications and Engagement Group discussion last night.

Leading the discussion were

Euan Semple, Social Media expert (

Dr Dannie Jost, Resident philosopher, World Trade Institute (

and LCEG organiser Matt O’Neill  ( (

It prompted interesting thoughts around the impact of wikileaks on corporate comms.

My take on the night was concerned with potential unintended consequences:-

  • the call for opennes and transparency will lead to more secrecy (remember the FOI Act?)
  • transfering control of information from one media to another (and the new media is unregulated!)
  • the potential for manipulation (political control, share prices).

My final reflection is that although most of the conversation last night was around new media and technology, I’m not sure it’s relevant. I suspect that I am part of a majority who consumed the Wikileaks information through traditional media, I haven’t even viewed the site!  Ironically, the “whistleblowers” didn’t even use the site to upload their their dossiers – they handed them over on discs and memory sticks and hard documents – so they didn’t even use the Wiki. I suspect whistleblowers fear they are more likely to be traced if they upload their information onto a site.

It seems to me that the Wikileaks phenonmena is a situation where the custodians of the media and the sources of the information are making decisions on what information to share and use sensationalism to get interest.  They present themselves as the ‘voice of the people’, claiming to represent public interest, without really understanding who the public are, never mind their interests.  Arguably pursuing their own personal and political agendas without regard to the wider consequences like national security and economy.

So what has changed? Not a  lot, it’s just got less regulated.

Heaven forbid, there may be a WikiMurdoch just around the corner.


  1. You would enjoy my current reading Sean The Net Delusion: How Not to Liberate The World

  2. Sean and Euan, a really useful summary. I found it interesting that Wikileaks’ original remit was to target the big corporates but they haven’t got around to doing it yet. It shows that their focus on international diplomacy has had a more profound impact in media sales and on public opinion. Recently it’s been linked to Tunisian citizens overthrowing their government and there are shockwaves .

    I suspect you’re right that governments will regulate even more and become protective about sharing information with citizens and select employees on even low to mid-level policy risks. In the last couple of years we’ve already seen new guidance for civil servants on engaging with digital media and information sharing. Much of this guidance is being pushed through by civil service leaders and employee communications teams. I suspect the penalties will become more severe for leakers, if they can track them down.

  3. It’s like someone once said the great firewall of China is much less effective than executing the odd blogger now and then.

    I posted on my dilemma about all this:

    and Dennis Howlett has come back with a great response here:

  4. Sean
    Thanks for this. This weekend I read the Vanity Fair article (Feb 2011) where they interview the Guardian Editor, Alan Rusbridger. He gives the contextual background to how they were brought in to add reach and publicity for the three caches of documents released so far; including the row when Channel 4 was added without consent and the delays in publishing the diplomatic cables in order to allow El Pais and Le Monde into the group with the NY Times and Das Spiegel….. all gripping reading and rather more insightful into the working methods of Assange and his team.

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