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This is the 400th article in this site's RSS feed on Julian Assange and WikiLeaks. On a rough count that's half a million words written since the spring 2010. All of that for a site devoted to advanced computer science and professional support.
Underground is a fascinating look into the world of hacking and hacktivism immediately before the advent of the World Wide Web in the 1990s. It was also a revealing look into how the incompetent in the world of computer science (and they are myriad) try to cover their innumerable mistakes and endemic sloppiness - blame it on the hackers.
The story of Gary McKinnon was a case in point: here you had someone curious as to whether the US had been hiding facts about UFOs. What to do? Walk through the open door.
There was no security to speak of at the Pentagon back then. (There might not be any today either.) 4,000 unprotected inherently vulnerable Windows machines sitting like sitting ducks that any script kiddie could crack. The expansive Pentagon network was at one's feet.
McKinnon talked about a near party atmosphere in there at times. He met people from all over the planet. That was the biggest unprotected secret going - anybody could (and did) get inside the Pentagon network.
McKinnon never quite found what he was looking for and ultimately left without damaging anything. It certainly wasn't his fault that Pentagon network security was crap. Yet ten years down the line and the clowns in the US are still trying to get him over the pond to help cover up their embarrassment for being found out as the boobs they are. Much like one finds in the closing chapters of Underground.
The McKinnon story led to his staunchest defender 'Dr K'. The good doctor had quite a lot to say about the cultural and historical importance of the Internet. And he in turn led to Swedish Pirate Party founder Rick Falkvinge who had even more to say.
Rixstep and Radsoft before it had always been about ethics in programming and the safety of the billion personal computer users around the globe - the premise born out of years of lecturing on operating systems that a system like Windows was simply not suitable for use on the World Wide Web. And that premise holds to this day.
But what to do with an Internet that is finally secure? What will people use it for? And here is where the likes of Dr K and Falkvinge could contribute valuable insight.
The World Wide Web with its hyperlinking represents the greatest cultural watershed in the history of the species known as homo sapiens on this planet. Greater by an order of magnitude than the printing press.
The 'web' changes the way people access information. It's no longer a pyramidal 'trickle down' method but a lateral method where everybody shares with everybody else. Right there one can see the spectre of the end of traditional journalism. Falkvinge even invented a word to describe it: gammelmedia - Old Media.
Wikipedia had advanced to the point where articles were heavily referenced and hyperlinked. People online took nothing for granted but more and more wanted to see the actual 'source' for the news items tossed their way. The world was growing up.
And then, seemingly out of nowhere, an Australian hit the mainstream in 2010.
Julian Assange had been around before. He's coauthor with Suelette Dreyfuss of Underground. But not many outside small circles and the Lucky Country knew much of him. He founded WikiLeaks (originally LEAKS.ORG) in October 2006 and gradually began churning out revelation after revelation. Suddenly people understood how powerful their 'web' really was.
Assange's idea was pure genius: create a submission system so no one on his end could ever know who was sending in what. Use Tor as the basic ingredient but fudge the Tor traffic with tens of thousands of bogus packets so no interloper could figure what was going on. You don't have to work very hard to protect your sources if you don't even know who they are.
Assange had already created a secure storage system known as Rubberhose, another brilliant idea in its own right. And the ultimate principle was the same: make sure the people involved don't have to keep quiet about what they're hiding - make sure they can't even know.
Assange hit the world with a 1-2-3-4 punch that shook it to its roots in 2010. The Collateral Murder video, the Afghan War Diaries, the Iraq War Logs, and Cablegate. The world would never be the same.
Not only The Powers That Be™ were shaken - the eyes of the plebes were opened. As with the Arab Spring of 2011, it was mostly a matter of people finding their worst suspicions of corporate and governmental betrayal to be well founded. Suddenly the US military machine was on the hot seat.
But it didn't take the US long to start regrouping. By May they'd picked up who they suspected was the principle leak to Assange and by August they had Assange entangled in a ridiculous court case in Sweden that persists to this day. The gammelmedia came out of the woodwork to attack, along with every war hawk on the planet: their world was crumbling around them and they weren't letting go.
Naomi Wolf has said on several occasions that it doesn't take much to see that the case against Assange in Stockholm is bullshit: try to imagine any government anywhere going through the same trouble and expense if it wasn't Assange. The original case against Assange was tossed out in less than 24 hours - but then again Eva Finné didn't have a husband working in the foreign department.
And so it's gone. And the interest from these sites is also coupled to what the 'investigation into the investigation' of Assange uncovered as a side effect: the rampant corruption that had overtaken Sweden the past twenty years when everyone was looking the other way.
Just how bad things are in Sweden, regardless of the outcome of Julian Assange case, is documented well at both sites. It's not a pretty picture. Gone are the paradises of the north, replaced by something dark and dystopian. Scandinavian society is in rubbles and Sweden is definitely not a good place to live (or even to visit) anymore. And a growing number of concerned Swedes are asking 'WTF happened'.
That's why there are, as of today, 400 links on the JA/WL RSS feed. With one half million words. This project is not at an end. Initially it looked like it would be over in less than 12 hours. But that's not the way things turned out. These two sites pick up three times as much traffic as before with two thirds for the Assange case and WikiLeaks in general.
We're all growing up, more and more each day. These times are trying for a great many of us, not in the least the Aussie who started it all. This isn't the way we wanted our world to turn out. Ronnie and Gorby said they'd make the world a better one. But the bad people didn't want to let that happen.