WikiLeaks and the politics of information

On September 1 Recordkeeping Roundtable co-founder Barbara Reed gave a lecture at Monash University at the invitation of Centre for Organisational and Social Informatics on ‘Wikileaks and the politics of information’.

In the talk, Barbara covers a wide range of issues relating to the custodianship, management and dissemination of the highly politically charged sets of records that have been submitted to WikiLeaks, and draws out from these the challenges for our profession in considering our understandings of matters such as control, ownership, authenticity and access to information. Importantly, Barbara places her reflections on WikiLeaks in the broader political context, involving as it does threats from governments, financial blockades and censorship (for example, in the case of the Library of Congress refusing to allow online access to WikiLeaks materials in their reading rooms). In addition to this ‘macro’ context, Barbara also valiantly (and even-handedly) explores the events leading up to the release of CableGate2, which had occurred only days before her talk.

Some of the parallels between WikiLeaks’ work and our own in recordkeeping that Barbara particularly notes include the notion of undeniability and proof; that by releasing so much information (evidence), no-one can deny what is actually going on. She also urges us to consider what we, as recordkeeping professionals, can take from the crowdsourcing methods employed by WikiLeaks to encourage pulling information from the records and tagging important information via Twitter, as has occurred  with #wlfind, as well as using records data in creative ways via visualisations, as have been generated by media partners, supporters and other creative developers.

You can access audio or video of Barbara’s talk here: http://www.infotech.monash.edu.au/research/centres/cosi/events/2011/wikileaks.html

Note: The talk itself is of about 45 minutes’ duration, followed by a Q&A session. Audio option is good, seems to be something odd going on with the video file.

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About Cassie Findlay

Digital archivist and recordkeeping professional, co-founder of the Recordkeeping Roundtable. @CassPF on Twitter.
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