Two Recent WIkiLeaks Books Offers Context and Detail on Controversial Media Innovator

I’ve finished two recent books on WikiLeaks, and can recommend them both.

The first is by Micah Sifry, whose work has long been at the cutting edge of the intersection of technology and policy. (Note: He’s a friend.) In his new book, WikiLeaks and the Age of Transparency, he does a terrific journalistic service: He connects the dots and offers context.

The book, as the title suggests, is less about WikiLeaks — though there’s plenty of nuanced discussion about that controversial media innovator — than about the emerging information ecosystem. Transparency is being forced upon opaque institutions and practices. On balance this is a positive development, but the downsides are not trivial.

If you want to know why WikiLeaks matters so much, how it fits into that wider ecosystem and why these developments are so important to the future of politics and policy, you won’t find a better place to start than this book.

You’ll also do well to check out The Age of WikiLeaks: From Collateral Murder to Cablegate (and Beyond) by the Nation magazine’s Greg Mitchell. Mitchell has been a relentless curator of all-things-WikiLeaks on his Nation blog for months now, and his knowledge of the operation is correspondingly encyclopedic.

This book is almost entirely about WikiLeaks and the site’s founder, Julian Assange. There’s plenty of meat and analysis, and not too much speculation. Mitchell gives us a straightforward and helpful look at a phenomenon that (among others) anyone involved in media needs to understand — especially the professional journalists who’ve been so ambivalent if not contemptuous about something that is part of their own ecosystem even if they don’t realize it.

One of the more interesting elements of Mitchell’s book is the way he’s publishing it. He’s a self-publisher, and has been experimenting with different prices with the Amazon Kindle version, and has already published a second edition. (He makes me feel almost slothful by comparison…)

When I come up for air on some work I have to finish, I plan to read the Guardian’s book on WikiLeaks as well as a volume by a former insider. Meanwhile, as I said at the top, I recommend these books for anyone who wants to go deep on WikiLeaks and what it means.

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