31 May 2010

Transparency is in WikiLeaks' DNA

It is somewhat ironic that the man behind WikiLeaks, Julian Assange, is not a fan of being in the spotlight; and therefore perhaps poetic justice that he is increasingly the focus of in-depth profiles. The best one so far has just appeared in The New Yorker, and includes this memorable description:

WikiLeaks receives about thirty submissions a day, and typically posts the ones it deems credible in their raw, unedited state, with commentary alongside. Assange told me, “I want to set up a new standard: ‘scientific journalism.’ If you publish a paper on DNA, you are required, by all the good biological journals, to submit the data that has informed your research—the idea being that people will replicate it, check it, verify it. So this is something that needs to be done for journalism as well. There is an immediate power imbalance, in that readers are unable to verify what they are being told, and that leads to abuse.” Because Assange publishes his source material, he believes that WikiLeaks is free to offer its analysis, no matter how speculative.

I'm sure Sir John Sulston had no idea how far his idea of openness would be taken when he drew up the Bermuda Principles....

No comments: