Wikileaks and the avant-garde of data strategy

This is a fascinating observation by Andrew Chadwick on pg 114-115 of The Hybrid Media System concerning Wikileak’s strategic agency with regards to the circulation of data, recognising that ‘information might want to be free’ but the sheer fact of its freedom is insufficient to bring about an effect in the world. As he notes on pg 109 this even extends to deliberately seeking the subjects of a leak to file law suits for the media attention this will inevitably generate:

It soon became clear that the mere publication of vast quantities of data did not by itself generate interest among professional journalists. WikiLeaks’ perspective on this is intriguing and it suggests some ambivalence about their original goals and a further explanation of their switch to fully fledged collaboration with news organizations. According to Assange, the problem was one of oversupply. Journalists were swamped by too much data. The trick was to increase its value by restricting its quantity and then follow this up by collaborating more closely. This, it was believed, would generate greater interest, more manageable stories—and impact (Mey, 2010).

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