Wikileaks has gone off like a bull in a china shop around the world and has revealed government secrets from places as diverse as Australia and Afghanistan, the USA and Uzbekistan. The power of the social web to deliver information in real time has been displayed in a controversial way that has inflamed governments and opinions.
The internet is placing more power in the hands of the individual rather than governments and authorities. For 1500 of the past 2000 years, knowledge was tightly held by a tiny elite who had access to higher learning. The invention of the printing press, and the explosion of literacy that followed the Reformation, saw that circle of knowledge expand rapidly.
The arrival of the internet, with its ability not just to reach a wider audience instantly, but to recruit millions of people to the task of collecting, correcting and disseminating knowledge (Wikipedia) has seen an irreversible shift and devolution in power.
Social media has put a printing press in the hands of everyone, not just Rupert Murdoch.
So what does Wikileaks and Social Media have in common?
1. Privacy no longer exists
Julian Assange is forcing us to rethink our assumptions about how much protection the ordinary person needs from the truth. Facebook, Twitter and YouTube amongst many other social media channels reveal with frank openness the private truth about peoples lives both good and bad. How much people reveal about themselves on Facebook is pushing the boundaries of what should be private and what should be public. Publishing any document in essence is now making it public. What happens in Vegas is now on Facebook for everyone to see.
2.Information can longer be controlled by the elite
Authorities both church, state and corporate have continued to think that their actions and inactions can be kept in the tower of power. The Gulf oil spill has revealed what the companies thought would never be discovered. Social media has displayed that information is now controlled by everyone and true democracy is emerging with government becoming truly transparent as our forefathers imagined.
3. The power of information us now in the hands of the ordinary man
An ordinary man has a printing press in his hand and it is a mobile phone it is an iPad with access to Twitter or Facebook and it doesn’t need to be tethered, it is wireless. A photo, a video can reveal an image that cannot be refuted or denied. An article can be published on a blog and sent with a click.
4. It allows the information to spread globally
Silos of private information are no longer isolated to a city or a country and kept in a dusty filing cabinet, they are becoming more global as each day passes. The social web doesn’t recognize country borders or boundaries.
5. Information can spread in real time
Truth being revealed decades later is now the exception rather than the rule. If you want to get information spread and disseminated it can now be sent on Twitter to a global audience in real time.
The world has changed for ever and there is no turning back, the horse has bolted and we are approaching a true capitalist model as envisaged by Adam Smith in “Wealth Of Nations” where the individual has perfect knowledge to make decisions whether they be good or bad.
Image by patricenaej