Is Julian Assange worth protecting?

To some, the uber WikiLeaker is a hero. To others, he's just a raging egomaniac whose days of relevance are past.

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A hero ain't nothing but a sandwich

I get it. To many, Assange is a hero – the lone avenger against the forces of corporate and government evil. (I am guessing, based on his public statements, that he also sees himself this way.) But to criticize Assange is not the same as supporting the forces of evil. This is not a binary thing.

I was an early and vocal supporter of WikiLeaks. I've written about it in other venues easily a dozen times. I remember getting an email after one of the first posts I wrote about WikiLeaks from a guy named Julian Assange. I thought “Wikileaks hired a PR person? What an odd thing for an anonymous organization to do.” That was before WikiLeaks became The Julian Assange Show.

Is WikiLeaks important? Yes, or at least it was, for a time. It doesn't seem to have done much lately. And there are other services – like the New Yorker Magazine's Strongbox – that promise to do the same, only with adult supervision.

But Assange? Not so much. Unless you consider him to be the essential driving force behind the site, one without which WikiLeaks would crumble into nothingness, then no.

(And as a side note: Has anyone else noticed that all of the amazing stories about NSA spying that have come out post Snowden have been broken by reporters at US newspapers? Not bloggers. Not blow-dried cable news meat puppets. Good old ink- and html-stained wretches, god love em.)

Finally, flatulence. One reader suggested I take myself too seriously and that I am too in love with my own prose. Maybe. But in my experience writing is mostly about failing. Anyone who’s doing it correctly should find it a humbling experience.

There’s an old comic strip I used to have pinned above my desk with the caption: “Writing is God’s way of showing you how sloppy your thinking really is.” That’s still one of my guiding principles.

My last post was really my attempt to get my head around what’s happening to my profession, and if we are really witnessing the dying gasps of what we used to call the free press. I don’t think I quite made it all the way there.

But there’s always tomorrow.

Got a question about social media or privacy? TY4NS blogger Dan Tynan may have the answer (and if not, he’ll make something up). Follow him on Twitter: @tynanwrites. For the latest IT news, analysis and how-to’s, follow ITworld on Twitter and Facebook.

Now read this:

What’s wrong with the NSA’s womb-to-tomb 24/7 surveillance

The NSA never metadata it didn’t like

Has Tor been bugged by the NSA?

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