from the getting-past-the-choke-points dept
We already posted Glyn Moody's response to Jaron Lanier's critique of Wikileaks, but I also wanted to point to and discuss an excellent rebuttal/debunking to Lanier's piece by professor Zeynep Tufecki, who notes that, contrary to Lanier's claims, Wikileaks hasn't exposed "the hazards of nerd supremacy," but rather the "dissent tax." The dissent tax is a great way to summarize the point I've been trying to make about how Wikileaks has really exposed corporate intermediaries who are too centralized. In Tufecki's explanation, the "cost" of avoiding those intermediaries is the dissent tax:
What the Wikileaks furor shows us is that a dissent tax is emerging on the Internet. As a dissident content provider, you might have to fight your DNS provider. You might need to fund large-scale hosting resources while others can use similar capacity on commercial servers for a few hundred dollars a year. Fund-raising infrastructure that is open to pretty much everyone else, including the KKK, may not be available. This does not mean that Wikileaks cannot get hosted, as it is already well-known and big, but what about smaller, less-famous, less established, less well-off efforts? Will they even get off the ground?This does such a nice job of summarizing the point I'd been trying (and probably failing) to make over the past few weeks that it's worth reading again. Of course, the real question is what happens next. And what we're seeing is that the response is for a lot of smart people to start looking at all these chokepoints that have created that dissent tax, and look for ways to route around them, and build more distributed, more censor-proof infrastructure pieces, such that any such dissent taxes in the future will be minimized.
These developments should alarm every concerned citizen, even those who are thoroughly disgusted by Wikileaks. This is the issue that the Wikileaks furor has exposed, not nerd ideology. This is the story and likely will be more important than the release of diplomatic cables (which were already available to millions of people) through major newspapers after scrutiny by journalists. This question will stay with us even if Wikileaks dissolves, and Julian Assange is never heard from again.