Inside Wikileaks: My time with Julian Assange at the World`s Most Dangerous Website

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Details the inner workings of the organization the author was a former spokesman for, revealing the evolution, finances, and inner tensions from the first meeting with Julian Assange to his withdrawal from Wikileaks.

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LibraryThing member jcbrunner
While Julian Assange was and is Wikileaks sales and show man, Daniel Domscheit-Berg was its unassuming manager and technician. His main interest is developing a secure whistle blowing platform. The events of the last decade have shown that traditional investigative journalism is dead. Politicians
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have learned that by silence and non-engagement they can sit out a news cycle. Media attention will shift and few reporters care to do the boring work of research. The corporate oligarchic ownership of the (US) media means that many whistle blower documents will never see the light of day. This was most blatantly on display when the New York Times sat on revelations that the Bush administration had illegally spied on ordinary Americans, until after George Bush was safely re?-elected.

Wikileaks and Domscheit-Berg's OpenLeaks disassembles the traditional value chain of investigative journalism as a new institution between a source (the whistle blower) and a reporter is inserted. This new institution creates competition for the journalists and restricts the government's ability to muzzle the media (either by carrot or stick).

Domscheit-Berg (and his ghost writer) tell the story of an internet start-up. Just like in most startups, roles and missions shifted in a never-ending mix of experiments until one format takes off. Wikileaks at the beginning was an amateurish spaghetti-code, server in a cellar organizaton that grew into an information exchange powerhouse. It is ironic that EDS, heavily integrated into the military-industrial complex, paid Domscheit-Berg's salary for his daytime IT grunt work while he moon-lighted in developing a website to counter their pernicious influence.

While the public strongly links Wikileaks with the Iraq and Afghanistan files that are directed mostly at revealing US misconduct, it is important to note, and well told in the book, that Wikileaks shed light also on many other institutions from Swiss bank accounts to shady German public contracts to secret Scientology manuals. In compliance with its true anonymity approach, Wikileaks does not know nor store information about their whistle blowers. So even if Bradley Manning did upload the data, Wikileaks could not confirm or deny it (leading Domscheit-Berg to think about some kind of token to share credit for whistle blowers once their act is beyond legal sanctions).

Domscheit-Berg's book also reveals the dark side of Julian Assange's egoistical personality. His nomadic childhood triggered a dangerous combination of an intense devotion to work and mission as well as a predatory (ab)use of other people who will be discarded when Assange escapes to another place. Assange's devotion to work and marketing skills were very beneficial during the start-up phase. Having grown into a business, Wikileaks as an organization suffered from his personality flaws. As it happens to many pioneers, it will probably not be Assange but his more professional successors who will build and sustain the whistle blowing platforms. Julian Assange will continue his media star/freak trajectory and hopefully redeem himself Whether the decent and unassuming Domscheit-Berg will be able to attract the necessary marketing talent to his new platform, will be interesting to watch. Recommended both as a start-up case study as well as an insight into the fragmentation of the Fourth Estate into nimbler and more accountable actors.
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LibraryThing member shannonkearns
a fascinating book by one of the early members of wikileaks. obviously this book only tells one side of the story, but even if half of what he says is true it paints a disturbing picture of assange and the inner workings of the wikileaks organization (especially surrounding their use of donations).
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this book was a quick read, not incredibly well-written but it held my attention all the way through. i was also concerned that the book would be too technical, but i found it immensely readable. i am looking forward to reading the book on wikileaks put out by the guardian's writers as i'm sure the truth of the matter will be somewhere in the middle.
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LibraryThing member Dottiehaase
Under the pseudonym Daniel Schmitt, Domscheit-Berg was the effective No. 2 at WikiLeaks and the organization’s most public face, after Julian Assange. In this book, he reveals the evolution, finances, and inner tensions of the whistleblower organization, beginning with his first meeting with
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Assange in December 2007. He also describes what led to his September 2010 withdrawal from WikiLeaks, including his disenchantment with the organization’s lack of transparency, its abandonment of political neutrality, and Assange’s increasing concentration of power. What has been made public so far about WikiLeaks is only a small fraction of the truth. With Domscheit-Berg’s insider knowledge, he is uniquely able to tell the full story. A computer scientist who worked in IT security prior to devoting himself full-time to WikiLeaks, he remains committed to freedom of information on the Internet. Today he is working on a more transparent secret-sharing website called OpenLeaks, developed by former WikiLeaks people, to be launched in early 2011.
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LibraryThing member PMaranci
A difficult book to judge. In large part, it seems to be one side of a battle over a broken relationship. Not knowing the other side, how am I to judge who's right? And why should I bother?

In this particular case, the dispute is between the book's co-author, Daniel Domscheit-Berg, and famed
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Wikileaks director Julian Assange. I'll credit Domscheit-Berg and/or his co-author Tina Klopp (who I presume is a ghost writer), with showing some restraint; they paint Assange as an arrogant and irresponsible egomaniac, but you can see them trying hard not to seem too obviously one-sided.

As for the truth of the details, how the hell am I to know? It's believable that Assange is an asshole. On the other hand, that's just if you go by Domscheit-Berg's word. Frankly, there are a million stories like this out there: a working relationship gone sour. I've had a few of them myself. Unfortunately this one isn't terribly more interesting than, well, any of mine for example! It's only the celebrity of Assange and Wikileaks that got this book into print.

There are two things that could have redeemed this book. One would have been great writing. I can't speak for the original German edition, but the translation in the English edition was merely workmanlike. Oh, it was handled well enough that it didn't jump out at me as a translation; whoever went over the translation did a good enough job, as far as that goes (and incidentally, I used to touch up and in some cases re-write poorly translated articles for a magazine myself, so I have some experience in this area). But the writing simply isn't anything special. Nor is there, for example, any particular humor to the book.

The other potentially redeeming factor would have been some really insightful details about the workings of Wikileaks. There's some of that here, and it is somewhat interesting. If it's credible (and I have no particular reason to doubt it) then Wikileaks is in a real technological pickle. But again, although I support openness and the stated principles of Wikileaks, technical issues don't mean a lot to me here.

The book is remarkably current. It's about issues that took place as recently as five or six months ago. That's a bit jarring! It gave me the feeling that I could have been reading the whole thing on some online forum.

I also have to say that I can't help but feel a little bit taken advantage of by Mr. Domscheit-Berg. His book seems to be little more than a veiled continuation of a running battle with Julian Assange. Okay, if his account is accurate, then Assange is an irresponsible egotist and bastard. But I wasn't involved in this battle, and why is Mr. Domscheit-Berg making money off of me in pursuit of his war? Apart from anything else, that seems a highly ironic act for someone who professes such high ideals.

Incidentally, the book was a birthday gift from my sister and her husband. I'm quite sure they hadn't read it themselves. It was a thoughtful gift - if you're reading this, sis, I hope this review doesn't hurt your feelings - because I am interested in openness, politics, and Wikileaks. I just wish Domscheit-Berg had produced something more worthwhile and in-depth.
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LibraryThing member pengvini
It was clearly written in a hurry. But it does give an inside glimpse into what went on at WikiLeaks.



Physical description

5.49 inches


0307952266 / 9780307952264
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