These are not Victoria's Secrets, they are Wikileaks

By Vinicius da Costa posted 12-20-2010 12:46


Please tell me if you were really surprised by the following affirmations made public by WikiLeaks.  That you really never thought this could be happening in the world.  Some of the headlines, I have to confess I was not sure whether they were meant to be comical or dramatic.  Be ready for WikiLeaks reveals:

  • “The US government doesn’t trust Middle East leaders”, really!
  • “Corruption is rampant in BRIC countries”, that is new!
  • “Russian democracy is broken”, wow!
  • “The sky is blue, if there is no cloud cover”, I leaked that one myself

Therefore, going forward I officially rename WikiLeaks to WikiReally! or WikiisaWasteofMyTime.  Someone — apparently — very wise once told me “there is no secret if more than 1 person knows about it”, referring to the fact that if you tell a secret to someone else, even if you trust that person above all, the secrecy is over.  It is a matter of time until other people know about it, since most humans have this nasty tendency of having to share it with another trustworthy person.  It is almost a primal need people can’t help but talking about it with someone else.

In other cases it is used to gain someone’s confidence, like when a married secret services agent is dating an intern who says: “how can you prove you love me?  For the past 6 months you’ve been telling me you’ll divorce your wife! I had enough”!  To which comments he replies: “ok, I’ll tell you something no one knows but you have to keep it as a secret. The CIA has strong evidence to believe Karzai, the President of Afghanistan, is playing with both sides”.  Then she can say either “great, this is on Twitter for about a year. Tell me something else” or “thank you my love, now I know you really love me” and go spread the word with her college friends.

The fact is WikiLeaks is not sharing anything really surprising yet and itself is not the problem either.  The problem is with the naïve people who believe a secret kept by thousands of others will never leak, and with people who will share confidential information for personal benefit.  The key difference is that in the past the information was leaked directly to the governments of other countries and now they are just made available to everyone.  Therefore, the ones who shouldn’t know about that secret information were the ones who already knew.  Today, besides them, everyone else do too.

It was like the world was divided in 2 groups: the few who lived in the real world and the rest — us — who were spared of the reality and the secrets to live in the pretend world.  So the few people who have the information could make whatever agreement or decision without ever asking the rest of us.  This may come as a shock for the population to some, since this apparently brings our government a step closer to those we criticize for hiding the truth from their people.  When we elect our representatives we also give them the power to decide on our behalf what we can and what we can’t know.  But this should not be a surprise at all.

I can see benefits in open intelligence.  It can motivate other people to contribute to it.  This WikiLeaks person was able to create a process and gather intelligence very quickly.  This process can be of great benefit since it opens the possibility of knowledge sharing to people who may know about something but would never be heard because we have limited resources.  This creates an almost limitless vehicle that can be of great benefit like any other open collaboration capability.  The issue is that in this case we want to know other people’s information but don’t want them to know ours.  But remember, if more than 1 person knows about something, it is no longer a secret anyway!


#socialmedia #Collaboration #government #wikileaks #E20 #open #AIIM #secret #CIA