Edward Snowden, Julian Assange, and Chelsea Manning are key figures in the struggles playing out in our democracies over internet use, state secrets, and mass surveillance in the age of terror. When not decried as traitors, they are seen as whistleblowers whose crucial revelations are meant to denounce a problem or correct an injustice. Yet, for Geoffroy de Lagasnerie, they are much more than that. Snowden, Assange, and Manning are exemplars who have reinvented an art of revolt. Consciously or no, they have inaugurated a new form of political action and a new identity for the political subject. Anonymity as practiced by WikiLeaks and the flight and requests for asylum of Snowden and Assange break with traditional forms of democratic protest. Yet we can hardly dismiss them as acts of cowardice. Rather, as Lagasnerie suggests, such solitary choices challenge us to question classic modes of collective action, calling old conceptions of the state and citizenship into question and inviting us to reformulate the language of critical philosophy. In the process, he pays homage to the actions and lives of these three figures.
Privacy is one of the most urgent issues associated with information technology and digital media. This book claims that what people really care about when they complain and protest that privacy has been violated is not the act of sharing information itself—most people understand that this is crucial to social life —but the inappropriate, improper sharing of information.
Arguing that privacy concerns should not be limited solely to concern about control over personal information, Helen Nissenbaum counters that information ought to be distributed and protected according to norms governing distinct social contexts—whether it be workplace, health care, schools, or among family and friends. She warns that basic distinctions between public and private, informing many current privacy policies, in fact obscure more than they clarify. In truth, contemporary information systems should alarm us only when they function without regard for social norms and values, and thereby weaken the fabric of social life.
With an emphasis on peer–produced content and collaboration, Wikipedia exemplifies a departure from traditional management and organizational models. This iconic "project" has been variously characterized as a hive mind and an information revolution, attracting millions of new users even as it has been denigrated as anarchic and plagued by misinformation. Have Wikipedia's structure and inner workings promoted its astonishing growth and enduring public relevance?
In Common Knowledge?, Dariusz Jemielniak draws on his academic expertise and years of active participation within the Wikipedia community to take readers inside the site, illuminating how it functions and deconstructing its distinctive organization. Against a backdrop of misconceptions about its governance, authenticity, and accessibility, Jemielniak delivers the first ethnography of Wikipedia, revealing that it is not entirely at the mercy of the public: instead, it balances open access and power with a unique bureaucracy that takes a page from traditional organizational forms. Along the way, Jemielniak incorporates fascinating cases that highlight the tug of war among the participants as they forge ahead in this pioneering environment.