For my TED talk I listened to “Why the world needs WikiLeaks” with WikiLeaks founder, Julian Assange. WikiLeaks is a non-profit journalism which publishes secret information submitted from anonymous sources. The key to WikiLeaks is the privacy and state of the art encryption used to keep submissions completely anonymous and to protect the identities of those with the original access to the information. While the identities of contributors are concealed in order to encourage submissions, Assange’s identity is completely out in the open. As a result WikiLeaks and Assange have been the center of many controversies in recent years, mainly due to the fact that many of the documents are top-secret and government related.
In this talk Assange discusses multiple major reveals that WikiLeaks has made over the past years in addition to the philosophy of his company. For Assange his philosophy is to reveal the truth that organizations try to conceal, which he believes is the objective of journalism. Assange directly challenges major news stations for not sticking with this objective and says that WikiLeaks has released more classified documents than all world news stations combined in recent years. Assange believes that WikiLeaks is a tool for political change through the information they release. Examples discussed include the Kroll Report which had large implications in regard to the Kenyan elections and a video of a United States airstrike in Baghdad which led to dramatic backlash. At the end Assange is asked what his core values are and he responds simply by saying that “well, capable, generous men do not create victims; they nurture victims.”
As my major takeaway I found Assange’s personal philosophy of nurturing victims, not creating them, extremely interesting. In this perspective I identified WikiLeaks’ stakeholders as being the citizen population of the world. Assange believes that the world should know about any private or concealed information that could harm the citizens, and so he uses WikiLeaks to reveal it. By doing this, Assange believes he is nurturing “victims” who are being hurt by having important information kept from them. But are these companies and countries’ populations truly victims if the information is something they have no knowledge of? Is Assange creating more victims by harming the privacy of companies and governments, like with the example in this talk of an American soldier who may be viewed poorly after the release of the Baghdad airstrike video?
While this talk was a little different because it was more of an interview that a presentation, one aspect that I found very interesting was the use of audience participation. Approximately two-thirds through the presentation the interviewer asked the audience to raise their hands to represent whether they thought Assange was a hero for what he was doing or a dangerous person. I found this tactic interesting because it provided a good sample of opinions from a group of people well-taught on the topic (or person) being discussed.