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WikiLeaks and the Age of Transparency

Preface by Andrew Rasiej

List Price: $15.95

March 15, 2011 | Paperback | 5 x 7, 224 Pages | ISBN 9781582437798
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"It's not a dig-up-the-dirt-on-Julian-Assange volume... In this work, Sifry examines other fronts in the battle for openness." —Mother Jones

The United States government is diligent—some might say to the point of obsession—in defending its borders against invaders. Now we are told a small, international band of renegades armed with nothing more than laptops presents the greatest threat to the U.S. regime since the close of the Cold War. WikiLeaks’ release of a massive trove of secret official documents has riled politicians from across the spectrum. Even noted free-speech advocate Floyd Abrams blames WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange for the certain defeat of federal shield-law legislation protecting journalists. Hyperbole, hysteria? Certainly. Welcome to the Age of Transparency.

But political analyst and writer Micah Sifry argues that WikiLeaks is not the whole story: It is a symptom, an indicator of an ongoing generational and philosophical struggle between older, closed systems, and the new open culture of the Internet. Despite Assange’s arrest, the publication of secret documents continues. As Sifry shows, this is part of a larger movement for greater governmental and corporate transparency: “When you combine connectivity with transparency—the ability for more people to see, share and shape what is going on around them—the result is a huge increase in social energy, which is being channeled in all kinds of directions.”

MICAH L. SIFRY iss 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, 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.

ANDREW RASIEJ (preface) is the co-founder of Personal Democracy Forum. He is a futurist, social entrepreneur, and technology advisor to many politicians, is the chair of the famed New York Tech Meetup. He was the 2004 chair of the Howard Dean Technology Advisory Committee.

Praise

“An absorbing, comprehensive examination of one of the most vital issues of our time.” —Publishers Weekly

“It’s not a dig-up-the-dirt-on-Julian-Assange volume… In this work, Sifry examines other fronts in the battle for openness.” —Mother Jones

“The effects of the ongoing WikiLeaks are cumulative—sort of like mercury poisoning—and reveal much about how dreadful many of our policies, especially regarding the war in Afghanistan, have been. With insight and clarity, Micah Sifry explores the red-hot spot where politics and the Internet intersect. An indispensable resource for the future fight over secrecy and openness.” —Arianna Huffington, co-founder and editor-in-chief of Huffington Post

“No one better grasps the interplay between innovative media technology and politics than Micah Sifry.” —Kevin Phillips, author, Bad Money: Reckless Finance, Failed Politics, and the Global Crisis of American Capitalism

“A leading participant in and observer of how the Internet is changing politics and society, Micah Sifry has given us a riveting, from-the-trenches report on how the clash between power, truth, access, transparency and small-d democracy is unfolding in our newly hyper-networked world. Inspired by WikiLeaks and the urgent debates that have been ignited by that phenomenon and its founder, Sifry explores the rise of the transparency movement in the US and around the world. This is a fascinating, trenchant and personal guide for smart, engaged people who seek to understand the new realities of this age of transparency.” —Katrina vanden Heuvel, editor and publisher of The Nation

“Micah Sifry doesn’t just know WikiLeaks. He sees how it relates to everything from the Obama’s victory to the Tea Party’s appearance to electoral politics in Croatia, and he uses his incredible breadth of experience to show us how WikiLeaks is part of a large, long-term trend in favor of the spread and visibility of information about our world, including information people often don’t want shared.” —Clay Shirky, author of Cognitive Surplus

“Just one piece of a much larger story of how the people and the powerful relate to each other: That’s how Micah Sifry sees WikiLeaks. By studying so carefully how technology is changing politics, he’s been preparing for years to write this book. We should be grateful that he actually did.” —Jay Rosen, author of PressThink.org

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