WikiLeaks: perhaps one of the most high-profile, potentially high-risk incidences of crowdsourcing. WikiLeaks is a nonprofit site for the media where anyone (ANYONE) can drop secure or sensitive information and get it to the public anonymously. Some of those stories and materials are investigated and then pushed live. Editor-in-Chief, Julian Assange is both eccentric and paranoid after years of promoting high-level whistle-blowing. In a recent Guardian article, Amy Goodman wrote “whatever happens to Julian Assange, WikiLeaks has cracked open state secrecy forever.”
One of the latest moves by WikiLeaks was last month’s release of government communications to the crowd for analysis and review. WikiLeaks recently acquired about 35,000 government cables between the US and other countries and in order to sort through them for potential points of interest, they’ve invited the crowd to explore them and track potentially interesting points via Twitter with the hashtag #wlfind.
It’s not the first time that WikiLeaks has turned to the public that it works to serve in order to outsource some of the daunting tasks assigned to their organization. The crowd has certainly made its voice heard (in a number of forums), but it’s also transcribed press conferences and analyzed more than 90,000 classified documents.
A recent article written by Ian Davey summarizes an interview with Dana Priest, but also suggests that we may need to get used to a new era of openness with government information. Apparently, over the past ten years in the field of government intelligence, the number of contractors trusted with state secrets has dramatically proliferated. Davey suggests that it might be time to open up the information coffers and let the crowd take on some of the burden of information (limited, of course).
When you can shout any question to the crowd, are there any secrets? What do you think about government information flowing through Twitter?