Operation Payback And Wikileaks Show The Battle Lines Are About Distributed & Open vs. Centralized & Closed

from the the-soul-of-the-internet dept

Back in October, I wrote a thought-piece on how "the revolution will be distributed," comparing Wikileaks to Anonymous' "Operation Payback" (whose tactics I disagree with). I noted that the two were very different, and were focused on very different issues, but that both were essentially about distributed and open systems taking on systems that were centralized and closed -- and that the folks in those centralized and closed systems didn't seem to understand this. Thus, all of their reactions did little to fix the challenges they were facing.

It seems that my comparison of the two operations was a bit more prophetic than I expected. In the wake of the latest Wikileaks saga, Operation Payback is getting attention for pointing its DDoS takedown efforts on Visa and MasterCard for their decision to disallow any payments to Wikileaks via their cards.

I still disagree with the tactics of Operation Payback -- which I fear will be counterproductive and could lead many people to think this is all about some "rowdy kids" rather than people with a serious agenda. However, it is rather telling how much attention they're getting. The folks behind Operation Payback point out that they're not affiliated with Wikileaks, but:
We fight for the same reasons. We want transparency and we counter censorship. The attempts to silence WikiLeaks are long strides closer to a world where we can not say what we think and are unable to express our opinions and ideas.
Again, I'm struck by the simple split many have here: it really is an argument between those who believe in distributed and open vs. centralized and closed -- and I'm still not sure if the folks supporting centralized and closed even realize this. Their response, to date, has been to act as if they're fighting a centralized system. They focus on things like Wikileaks' domain and its founder -- as if that's the issue. They target the centralized pieces. And even if you make the argument that Wikileaks needs Julian Assange to stay together, if it were to shut down, it wouldn't take long for a ton of other, similar offerings to spring up in its place. And, they would probably be even more effective (and potentially more damaging).

While I don't necessarily like "war" analogies, what we're seeing is very much a battle between the way people want to see information flow, and one side seems to be still fighting the last war.

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  1. icon
    RadialSkid (profile), 9 Dec 2010 @ 9:56am


    real life versus a group of people who feel entitled to disturb all of those things, regardless of who gets hurt.

    You mean the U.S. government?

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