It's one of the biggest news stories for years. A charismatic, white-haired Australian sets up a website devoted to publishing leaked documents in the public interest, and then, allegedly with the aid of a disaffected American soldier, starts releasing startlingly honest cables from the US diplomatic service - with explosive results. In this lively, up-to-the-minute book, technology and politics analyst Micah Sifry tells the story of WikiLeaks in the context of the growing movement for transparency in politics and of the crowdsourcing activism that the Internet and in particular Web 2.0 has made possible. In particular, he looks at the achievements of open-source web projects that collate information for individuals and governments alike, and describes how crowdsourcing initiatives have analysed MPs' expenses, recorded political violence in Kenya and reduced bribery in India. Finally, he discusses the rather ambivalent attitudes displayed by political elites, many of whom have embraced the idea of open government in opposition only to go quiet once in power. Fascinating, thoughtful and often eye-opening, this is an essential guide to the new age of transparency.
Micah Sifry is the co-founder and executive editor of the Personal Democracy Forum (where Assange has spoken twice), editor of its award-winning techPresident.com blog, and a senior technology adviser to the Sunlight Foundation. A former editor and writer at The Nation magazine, he is the author of one book (Spoiling for a Fight, 2002), co-author of another (Is that a Politician in Your Pocket?, 2004) and co-editor of two anthologies: The Iraq War Reader (2003) and The Gulf War Reader (1991). He is also a member of the board of Consumers Union. His personal blog is at micah.sifry.com.