WikiLeaks’ Plan B

Filtration is a process of phase separation of a heterogeneous system that involves passing a mixture through a porous medium or filter, which retains the majority of the solid components of the mixture.

— “Filtration” bluntly, according to Wikipedia.

After WikiLeaks’ publication last July of 90,000 documents about the war in Afghanistan, I had the opportunity to declare what I believe constitutes the most important revolution in modern journalism. Therefore, I said that using the New York Times, The Guardian and der Spiegel as sounding boards established a model of collaboration between the emerging media outlets, investigative journalists and analysts that can serve as a lesson for communication businesses.

To those media outlets we should now add a Spanish name, El Pais. This is also a milestone for Spanish journalism, above all because of the revelations related to the National Court, a judicial body that over the last 20 years has leaked all kinds of interesting tidbits to the media. Finally we can see, raw and clear, the true morals of those who over the years managed information in small amounts, leaking to certain journalists some selected passages of the most lofty judicial prose on issues like terrorism, drug trafficking, dirty war and corruption.

Journalism consists of uncovering, investigating and analyzing that which those in power want to hide, tracing news stories to their origin, determining causes and effects, contrasting versions, avoiding contaminations and isolating bad influences. This is all part of a scientific method that requires structure and investment, all reasons why WikiLeaks has collaborated with other news sources.

However, these same reasons lead to me to consider — maybe prematurely — that it’s necessary to take an additional step. Talking about Wiki is synonymous with work distributed on the Internet. The journalism industry that has given coverage to WikiLeaks can do many things, but isn’t exactly a system of decentralized nodes; its structure is eminently hierarchal.

The spaced out publication of the distinct cables, managing the media’s effect of each exclusive, responds to that pattern, a pattern which depends on largely on the human and organizational capacity of each media outlet to absorb and analyze information.

Perhaps there are other ways to do things: to leave them also in the hands of the Internet. If mining data is a colossal task, why not distribute it into a plan A, plan B, and plan C? If the goal is to unveil the hidden truth, the more hands that investigate, the better.

As Ignacio Escolar said, perhaps the cables from the American embassy in Madrid are relative to Sinde’s Law, a rule that was implemented one year ago today. Many writers and readers want to know what hidden interests and pressures our legislators respond to. If national sovereignty is, above all, popular sovereignty, maybe it’s time for common people to know the code names of the hidden, anonymous legislators.

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