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This is a question B3ta Person of the Year 2010

Instead of Time person of the year, who's B3ta's and why? (Thanks to Elliot Reuben for the suggestion.)

(, Thu 16 Dec 2010, 10:53)
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Julian Assange
Vote for this and we won't switch it to some twat from Facebook at the last minute.

Although knowing B3ta I imagine Brian Blessed is probably going to win. Or Jeremy the Horse.

For the why?

* For reminding us of that exciting moment in the 90s when geeks got together and muttered, "OMG. The internet will change everything."

* For living out a story better than any fiction that I've read out in yonks.

* For giving us crazy shit to read. I recommend to anyone who's run a website to read the mailing list stuff that an ex wikileak person leaked from when they were setting up the site in 2006/7. These people are geeks arguing about logos. This is what my life is like - except mine doesn't involve mind boggling plans to change governments using a truth bomb.

* For getting himself arrested on (possibly) rape charges for what amounts to shagging the fans. Long term b3tans will remember the lesson of John [*1]. Never, ever, shag the fans.

* For creating the real world theater that shows us how the world works. Hippies go, "it's a fascist dictatorship man" but when you've got the US Airforce closing down access to the Guardian newspaper - this is literally the actions of fascism. The world has been given a mirror and it's ugly.

* For making me believe that the Guardian newspaper is something worth fighting for. Balls of steel. They should have a tip jar where we could give them money or something coz it's not like I want to buy the actual paper as it's all papery, and paywalls just remove you from public debate, so yeah, a big "IF YOU LOVE US, SUPPORT US" button.

* For being a twat who turns up in comedy rap videos. Osama never did this.

[*1 Name changed to protect the innocent etc]
(, Thu 16 Dec 2010, 10:55, closed)
I was going to donate (to b3ta)
the other day, then I remembered I closed my paypal account. The Wikileaks thing was the last straw. They have been behaving in an increasingly cuntish manner. Which, ironically (perhaps), is why we need people who can actually get organised enough to do stuff the Wikileaks do; to hold up a mirror to The Powers That Be.
(, Thu 16 Dec 2010, 11:21, closed)
Not only did you beat me too it.
But worded it better than I could. And put some guff in about computers that keeps people on here happy.

Have a click.
(, Thu 16 Dec 2010, 11:26, closed)
For living out a story better than any fiction that I've read out in yonks.
It's like one of William Gibson's better efforts came to life.
(, Thu 16 Dec 2010, 11:33, closed)
@emvee: Go back a bit further than Gibson,
although I cannot deny that he is a great and insightful writer, and read John Brunner's 'The Shockwave Rider'. https://secure.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/wiki/The_Shockwave_Rider
(, Fri 17 Dec 2010, 5:46, closed)
I used to know him
He seemed to wish the world was a cyberpunk story back when he broke into some machines I ran, 20-odd years ago. It scares the hell out of me that the world has changed so that he got his wish.
(, Fri 17 Dec 2010, 8:32, closed)
Totally.
I think those people going on about how much of a cunt he is on /board are really missing the big picture.
(, Thu 16 Dec 2010, 11:36, closed)
^this

(, Thu 16 Dec 2010, 11:39, closed)
very well put
although Jeremy the Horse is a fucking strong contender
(, Thu 16 Dec 2010, 11:47, closed)
I met his mum yesterday
You can tell its true because nothing interesting or funny happened and we didn't have MASSIVE SEX.

She seemed kind of sad which is understandable
(, Thu 16 Dec 2010, 11:54, closed)
Thank you and yes, he should get the award;
(my country is a poor shawdow of what it once was).
(, Thu 16 Dec 2010, 12:09, closed)
Yup, lets award it to him before he has an "accident"
I'm just saying that he should avoid Paris. And grassy knolls. And hold-alls in the bath.
(, Thu 16 Dec 2010, 12:17, closed)
Should be landslide winner.

(, Thu 16 Dec 2010, 13:10, closed)
I think it's likely to be high
and also Jessie is going to get lots of votes too - I've voted for both.
(, Thu 16 Dec 2010, 13:14, closed)
Serious response?
Even stepping over the issues of "rightness" or not of blindly releasing what mostly amounts the world politic equivalent of schoolyard gossip, even ignoring that the specific mandate of most democratic government is that it is allowed to make decisions without consulting or informing the electorate, (which seems to be some people's issue with some of this) - that's what we put them in power for, after all - the issue with the concept of "holding a mirror up to the world" and therefore also the major problem with this deification of Assange is the blind assumption that everything on Wikileaks is true. Some of it is demonstrably untrue to anyone with half an ounce of sense. Some of it is true, of course, I agree, but what we're doing here is suddenly making one site the moral arbitrator of what's true or not or right or wrong. Personally, I've got as much of a problem with that any amount of repression by "the man"
(, Thu 16 Dec 2010, 13:17, closed)
there's a lot more in wikileaks than school yard gossip - there's powerful accusations
* there's American tax payer money spent by a US company on child prostitution

* there's the UK promising that the Chilcot inquiry on the Iraq war will protect America

* There's an oil company infiltrating the Nigerian governments to control business interests

Is this stuff true? Some of it true - some of it is opinion - some of it is bollocks. Which is partly why wikileaks working with journalists like The Guardian to give this stuff context is exactly the right thing to do.

The idea of one site being the moral arbitrator of truth is a bit sensationalist. Wikileaks has no monopoly on publishing leaked data or working with newspapers.
(, Thu 16 Dec 2010, 13:39, closed)
My serious problem with the whole thing
Is that Wikileaks make the decision about what and what not to "leak" .. therefore who regulates them? They are making moral choices every time they leak something.

To put it in perspective - The Daily Mail back Sarah's law or whatever the fuck you want to call it, demanding that the names and addresses of everyone on the sex offenders register is made public. Right thinking, decent human beings call that an outrage. Wikileaks effectively do the same thing, every day, and it's supposed to be wonderful? Bollocks. They have no right to decide what information should be public and what shouldn't. No-one made them the boss.

Just because information is there doesn't mean everyone has the right to see it.

Any I agree with you about serious crimes/accusations. The child prostitution thing. The war crimes stuff. But if crimes are committed, people should be punished. You do not punish people by publishing accusations and evidence prior to an arrest. Let's not forget in a lot of countries that makes it inadmissible in an actual trial.

But I mention this again. What makes you believe the accusations are true over any denial? Since you accept that some things on wikileaks are untrue, what evidence do you have that the "serious" stuff is any more true? (I'm not saying it isn't, but you or I or any other member of the public has no way of knowing, yet the majority believes it is just because a) they want to believe in giant conspiracy and b) a man on the internet says so.

Personally, I think wikileaks is symptomatic of everything that is wrong with the internet. Information in the hands of those utterly ill-equipped to either judge it properly or use it wisely.
(, Thu 16 Dec 2010, 17:03, closed)
some of these documents make claims (claims written by American diplomats, not wikileaks, who claim very little)
that for example America has picked people up for crimes they didn't commit - tortured them - then covered it up. The problem is when you have a system that's covering up its wrongdoing, it can't be trusted to investigate it either. Only a third party can expose this.

Publishing it is the right way to go - working with journalists and professional news agencies to secure this information gets out there.

As to which stuff gets published? With the Cableleaks stuff at the moment - you can request the Guardian searches for specific stuff - as they are sitting on the entire archive - and if it uncovers something interesting they are sticking this out.

Chunking it up like this is the sensible way to handle it - a dump of 250k stories would have made people go "too much info" and switch off.

Personally don't wish to see Wikileaks as a gatekeeper of all info - and assuming the baddies don't win and everyone becomes too frightened to ever leak anything ever again - then I think we could see a number of competing sites with different styles. Like we have youtube, but also liveleak, vimeo etc. The internet doesn't like monopolies - where there's a hit website others make their own versions.

And as to why do I believe it? Well the source isn't some mental on the internet, it's 1000s of bright and highly trained diplomats and it's the quantity - there's so much stuff there that shows a system wide abuse of power, the only way it's untrue as a whole is if the diplomatic machine is insane and spent 40 odd years writing fictional documents.
(, Thu 16 Dec 2010, 17:39, closed)
simply
diplomats record everything. fact. fiction. rumour. heresay. without the original context, and the person who wrote it to report, it's meaningless.

And I totally agree, find a unbiased third party capable of analysing properly the evidence and use them to review it then reveal to the public "the truth" if you want to call it that . Wikileaks is in no way unbiased nor have I seen any evidence it's capable of properly analysing. Journalists certainly aren't. and the public most certainly isn't either.
(, Thu 16 Dec 2010, 17:47, closed)
Sigh...
The wonderful thing about the internet, is that it is now possible to do these dumps. In the olden days, when granddad rode a bicycle to the pit, newspapers made decisions about what to print and what not to print, and interpreted and filtered information, for a range of reasons but significantly because of the technological and cost limitations. It was not practical to print (or reprint) all documents they might have acquired.
The other thing is that there is simply much more documents and data available these days to leak. And much easier to copy (rather than needing to photocopy, or photograph, or steal several cabinets full). It is also available to much wider audience. According to some reports the diplomatic cables were available to about 2 million people when they were secure.
As far as I can tell, Wikileaks is making far fewer decisions about what it publishes than traditional media makes. The last dump, the Afghan/Iraqi war papers, was just that a dump of documents all at once; the original source documents all at once. The current dumps of the cables are being released in chunks, according to what I've read, to maintain the attention on the cables.
You are correct in stating that the cables are not necessarily the truth, they are the opinions of individual diplomats, and are based on a range of sources including rumour and speculation. This simple fact is something that has been lost on many, including mainstream media reporting on the cables.
However, Wikileaks is releasing the original cables, so I don't think anyone can accuse Wikileaks as presenting the content of the cables themselves as absolute truth.
The real power in Wikileaks, is the fact that we can so much more easily get the original source documents, read them and make up our own minds, instead of relying on the particular biases of our favourite daily, be it the Daily Mail or the Guardian.
By giving us direct access, it is so much harder for a few to control the flow of information. A superficial glance at history shows how easy it has been in the past for information to be controlled, because decisions about the flow of information were made by so few people.
(, Sat 18 Dec 2010, 0:31, closed)
Wikileaks
and by extension Assange, decides what to release.
Just saying, like.
(, Sat 18 Dec 2010, 8:59, closed)
But they release it unedited, without opinion or judgement
That's got to be worth something
(, Tue 21 Dec 2010, 18:27, closed)
There's a decent comparison to be drawn
with a prosecution lawyer producing evidence to a jury, then saying "let the facts speak for themselves".
(, Wed 22 Dec 2010, 19:39, closed)
Unless you are an expert in
economics, politics, social welfare, conflict and about 30 other things besides, and are in possesion of every other single bit of "unleaked" information about scenarios, you don't possess the capabiliy to analyse most of the stuff leaked and "make up your own mind" at least not in an unbiased mannner.

You think you do, but you don't. Just saying, like.

And unbiased? Please. Bradley Manning has a huge agenda. He's got a chip on his shoulder against the US military the size of Wales. Assange has a huge personal agenda, mostly "Julian Assange". They are about as unbiased as a Russian football ref.
(, Mon 20 Dec 2010, 11:26, closed)
Everyone's biased in their own way
It's inescapable. But that doesn't make the information biased - it's people's perceptions of it that provide the bias. Sure, they may have their own agendas for releasing the information, but that doesn't make the information itself biased.

Just saying, like
(, Tue 21 Dec 2010, 18:28, closed)
"what we're doing here is suddenly making one site the moral arbitrator of what's true or not or right or wrong"
Who's doing this? Or what makes you think this? I'm genuinely interested.
(, Thu 16 Dec 2010, 13:50, closed)
see above
The problem is that people take wikileaks as gospel (actually the same, massive problem, is true of wikipedia). Therefore Assange (I know it's not just him, but you get the point) is choosing what the internet community believe simply by what he leaks, true or not. And who put him in the position to judge? He knows about as much about the reality of politics and economics and social behaviour as I do.

(this sentence has nothing to do with my argument, but as 50% /talk resident I feel obliged to sling some abuse) Less, in fact, because I'm not clearly a socially ill-equipped shut-in with a serious chip on my shoulder because I was bullied by an authority figure as a child.
(, Thu 16 Dec 2010, 17:09, closed)
Fortunately the majority of the information released has been diplomatic gossip
but let's imagine a situation in which Wikileaks has evidence that Israel plans to bomb Iran immenently; would the release of this information be "in the public interest"? Yes, in that the public would be interested. No, in that the release of such information would no doubt precipitate a reaction from both parties. I don't trust Assange to be the arbiter any more than I would trust my cat.
(, Thu 16 Dec 2010, 17:30, closed)
Quite.
And the reaction to the rape thing sickens me. He might or might not be guilty, of course. But we have people (I'm especially liooking at you, Tatchell) that in any other situation would be screaming blue murder because of the amount of effort that goes into getting a decent level of rape convictions who suddenly think this man should not face questioning because "it's clearly a trumped-up charge to get him in the hands of the US" Fuck's sake. Since Swedish law prohibits publishing of details of alleged crimes or evidence, we have no idea - any of us - what he might or might not have supposedly done, and Sweden complicit with the US in bringing down someone on a free speech issue? Seriously? Go outside, bang your head on a wall, and come back in when you've seen sense.

How does a load of celebrities and the public get to decide guilt and innocence in crime? This isn't I'm a fucking celebrity or Britain must be stopped.
(, Thu 16 Dec 2010, 17:42, closed)
It's all grist to the mill
of those who credit the US administration with more influence and ability than they've ever demonstrated. Let's not forget, they singularly failed to predict (let alone bring about) the collapse of communism, they fucked up the invasion of Iraq something chronic and they can't even prevent the leaking of some pretty inocuous diplomatic cables. If I was that way inclined, I'd start thinking they've got some sort of conspiracy of inability going on...
(, Thu 16 Dec 2010, 18:27, closed)
Good response
the vast majority of stuff released by Wikileaks was common knowledge. Nigerian governmental corruption? The UK supine in the face of US pressure? Russia controlled by mafia? Knock me down with a feather. The very fact that this information was being circulated to low level personnel in the US administration points to how unimportant it was deemed to be. That some politicians are screaming "off with his head" as regards Assange is neither here nor there.
I'm afraid that the only long lasting effect of this leak will be a much tighter system of control on the flow of information within and from the US.
(, Thu 16 Dec 2010, 15:03, closed)

I logged in for the first time this year to vote for this...
(, Thu 16 Dec 2010, 13:57, closed)
Re: the fascism stuff
Every country in the world censors what material their armed forces have access to. It's not "literally the actions of fascism". I could carry on to state that equating the US government's actions to fascism is offensive to the victims of fascist regimes, but that might get me censored, right? ;)
(, Thu 16 Dec 2010, 15:15, closed)
or not
it depends how you look at these things. The way armed forces are constructed and controlled is a bit of a worry. It doesn't take much to get people to do horrendous things, like kill civilians.
Perhaps, if people have access to good quality information, they will make better decisions.
(, Wed 22 Dec 2010, 16:24, closed)
Yes
it depends how you look at things. I tend to regard the US government and its armed forces as being quite distinct from a fascist government. I'd go on to suggest that if you disagree, you're either poorly educated or slightly demented. I'm not sure where this knee jerk conflation of authoritarian government with fascism comes from; it's almost as though the Soviet Union never existed...
(, Wed 22 Dec 2010, 19:27, closed)
Or not
FWIW, this is what our lord and saviour has to say on fascism:

Fascism tends to include a belief in the supremacy of one national or ethnic group, a contempt for democracy, an insistence on obedience to a powerful leader, and a strong demagogic approach.

Fascism came to rise in a world where mass media was relatively new. Radio in particular was important in pushing a particular world view. By controlling a flow of information to the public, the public's opinion was easier to shape.

There a parallels to be drawn. I don't think that you can necessarily equate the control of information that the armed forces use to control their people with Mussolini's Italy, but a lack of diversity of opinion and indeed a desire to keep unwelcome truths from your people is hardly the hallmark of democracy.
(, Thu 23 Dec 2010, 7:28, closed)
*Sigh*
and practises perceived to be undemocratic are not the sole preserve of fascism. "Fascist" has become a devalued term as a result of constant misuse; you might as well draw a comparison between the US government's actions in this case and the Austro-Hungarian empire/ancient Sparta/the Umayyad Caliphate.
(, Thu 23 Dec 2010, 9:22, closed)
Duely clicked
for absolute agreement
(, Thu 16 Dec 2010, 15:21, closed)
Someone made an interesting observation.
Isn't Mr Asssange just doing what the newspapers are supposed to do? I mean he's uncovering lots of interesting facts and making governments more accountable. This I believe is called investigative journalism.
(, Thu 16 Dec 2010, 16:42, closed)
Yeah but most newspapers and media outlets either can't afford investigative journalism
or have corporate interests that are specifically against it
(, Thu 16 Dec 2010, 16:53, closed)
I'd agree with the financial constrictions angle
seeing as most media outlets are just AP recycling machines nowadays, but I'm not sure that corporate interests are bothered about anything but the bottom line - sales/advertising.
(, Thu 16 Dec 2010, 17:10, closed)
it's that or journalists are simply lazy
I'm pretty certain that papers now employ one proper 'hack' (no doubt as per some obscure union regulation) and have outsourced the business of topping & tailing press releases.
(, Thu 16 Dec 2010, 23:20, closed)
Nah, it's finances
why pay for decent investigative journalists when you can get a work experience kid to rejig AP copy?
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flat_earth_news gives a pretty depressing account of how newsgathering has changed over the past 20 years or so.
(, Fri 17 Dec 2010, 0:00, closed)
He hasn't uncovered anything
he's disseminated it, using (funnily enough) newspapers. As to whether the information he's released will make governments more accountable, time will tell. Assange isn't Deep Throat, and he certainly isn't Woodward/Bernstein.
(, Thu 16 Dec 2010, 17:01, closed)
As for the implicit charge that newspapers aren't engaged in holding governments to account
MP's expenses ring any bells?
(, Thu 16 Dec 2010, 17:18, closed)
And pulling that out was like pulling teeth if I recall.
Nevertheless it's not fair to discount the claim that many news outlets aren't really that bold in their journalism. Either that or they're necessitating their 24/7 existence with tat going about 19/7. I think it's perspective here that harms them most. They have a lot of time to report things and not a lot to do with it. I'm with you on one hand but there is a lot of shite out there too.
(, Fri 17 Dec 2010, 19:40, closed)
It's a new world.
It's a new paradigm and this is just the beginning. Does anyone remember 'the smoking gun' website? This is the start of a new media, where the raw data is handed directly to anyone who wants it.

A point someone made, wikileaks has released more 'secret' documents than all the world media has during the period wikileaks has existed. So, you can take that as they are releasing 'too much information' or that the world media is a very parlous state.
(, Wed 22 Dec 2010, 16:16, closed)
A new world?
I'd agree that the internet makes it easier to access information. Unfortunately the vast majority of people have neither the time nor inclination to process this information, which is exactly where the boring "old" media step in...
(, Wed 22 Dec 2010, 19:33, closed)
Well that was food for thought
Hadn't really thought about all this being a mirror held up to the world, but that's a fair enough observation and a point well made; a lot of ugly, random shit has come out of all this. 'A good read;' fuck me the film will come, I think all the producers are simply waiting on the end game, or simply when they can deliver a script

Given, as you have pointed out, there won't actually be one
(, Thu 16 Dec 2010, 22:47, closed)
i really like breasts

(, Thu 16 Dec 2010, 23:53, closed)
So does Julian
they makes him so horny he leaks inside their owner, even when they've asked him not to.

which isn't technically rape, just a bit of a surprise.
(, Tue 21 Dec 2010, 14:57, closed)
And this is the reason i shall be donating to B3ta in the new year.

(, Fri 17 Dec 2010, 0:28, closed)
If baldmonkey doesn't win this Wikileaks will have to reveal that it was rigged.

(, Sat 18 Dec 2010, 13:20, closed)
No, it should be Bradley Manning
Who was most likely the actual source of the cable leaks, and the "Collateral Murder" helicopter gunship video. And all the other people who actually SENT documents to WikiLeaks. They are the ones taking real risks. Whilst the media circus focuses on Assange and his few days in prison, Manning has been in a military jail since May. No celebrities can come forward and bail him out.

WikiLeaks is certainly an important website for how it has helped disseminate these materials, but Assange seems unfairly to be getting all the credit for it. In fact personally I think his strategy this year of gallivanting around, courting a few media outlets and focusing almost entirely on the US government has actually damaged the site, compared to what it was originally.
(, Sat 18 Dec 2010, 21:58, closed)
This is an excellent point
Assange seems to have forgotten a cardinal rule of investigative journalism; protect your source.
(, Sun 19 Dec 2010, 8:38, closed)

protect your source wear a condom
(, Tue 21 Dec 2010, 14:58, closed)
some have said
that Assange became the media whore he now is, in an attempt to get attention for wikileaks. They are still figuring out how to do this. The dumping of the iraq/afghan war documents all in one hit didn't quite work either.

What's interesting in all this, is even though there have been some outrageous allegations (you know, like the military killing civilians without a second thought), no-one seems to care much.
(, Wed 22 Dec 2010, 16:20, closed)

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