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"Inside Wikileaks: My Time with Julian Assange at the World's Most Dangerous Website" was the first book deal to arise from the Wikileaks phenomenon. This contentious memoir of Daniel Domscheit-Berg's nearly three years at Wikileaks, ghost written by German journalist Tina Klopp, recounts his experiences as Wikileaks' spokesman in Germany and all-around staffer who went by the name Daniel Schmitt in public. It begins at the 24th Chaos Communications Congress, where Domscheit-Berg met Julian Assange, and follows his experiences at Wikileaks from the 2008 Julius Bäer leak until he left Wikileaks, following a dispute with Assange that had been escalating for months, in September 2010.

Domscheit-Berg offers some interesting behind-the-scenes stories of significant leaks that helped make Wikileaks' early reputation, such as the Scientology Handbooks and the German Toll Collect contract material, but the emphasis is on his relationship with Julian Assange. And I have the impression that isn't only because Assange gossip sells well these days. Domscheit-Berg clearly adored Assange, even if he found the man pathologically inconsiderate, and was therefore particularly upset by the deterioration of their relationship. Given the preoccupation with Assange's character, or Domscheit-Berg's view of it, it is surprising and unfortunate that he says almost nothing about Julian Assange's ideas of politics, information flows, or strategy.

Domscheit-Berg pines over his relationship with Assange for 279 pages but never explains why he was so enamored of the man in the first place. Surely Assange had interesting things to say as he and Domscheit-Berg fought internet censorship in Germany, assisted with IMMI in Iceland, and built the world's most infamous repository of things we're not supposed to know. But we never find out what he said. Domscheit-Berg would rather talk about Assange's table manners. And the account is too one-sided to even make interesting gossip. Domscheit-Berg mentions that Julian Assange sent him a list of what he considered to be Domscheit-Berg's shortcomings, which included the pleats in his pants. But he doesn't give us the rest of the list.

It's evident that a large part of the friction between Daniel Domscheit-Berg and Julian Assange was rooted in a personality conflict. Domscheit-Berg calls Assange's competitiveness "anathema". He's a neat freak, while Assange is a slob. Domscheit-Berg is so allergic to the concept of strong leadership that he insists all decisions be made by consensus and even contemplated breaking ties at Openleaks with a game of rock-paper-scissors. It strikes me that he misinterpreted Assange's behavior on a fairly regular basis. The months that he, Assange, and two other men spent sharing a hotel room in Iceland seem to have been the final straw. Their relationship never recovered. It's no wonder. They were limited to ironing out their differences through online chat.

I could sympathize with Domscheit-Berg's frustration with Assange's lack of managerial and organizational abilities up to a point. That point was when Domscheit-Berg and Wikileaks' "architect" absconded with Wikileaks' software and configurations, including its submission platform, leaving the organization on shaky technical footing. That's sabotage. And it's stealing. Domscheit-Berg's justification for this behavior is to say that the software was the architect's intellectual property and that they removed Wikileaks' submission platform so that "Julian could not do harm to anyone else." But Domscheit-Berg mentions no instance of Assange doing harm to any source. And if you write software for a company, it is the property of that company.

So in the end, Daniel Domscheit-Berg impressed me as a passive-aggressive, small-minded crook who wallows ad nauseum in his own self-righteousness and who never understood Julian Assange's strategy or goals. That is probably Assange's fault. But it must be acknowledged that Assange's decisions about Wikileaks' strategy were the right ones in retrospect, even if Domscheit-Berg still insists the organization is heading in the "wrong direction". Wikileaks claims that Domscheit-Berg was out of the loop and his role in the organization diminished by early 2010. Judging from this book, that is correct. He gets some facts about Assange's legal troubles in Sweden and about the War Logs collaboration wrong. Some of these facts could have been checked, so that doesn't inspire confidence.
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on October 11, 2013
The story is interesting but the book needed some better editing. It certainly presents the philosophy behind Wikileaks but I also find it interesting that neither the author nor Assange seemed to recognize that Wikileaks had its own secrets it didn't want disclosed while they were on a crusade to expose everyone else's.
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on February 1, 2014
an interesting diary of ongoings between Assange, 'Schmitt', and WikiLeaks. While the ideal and idea of WikiLeaks was a great one, the man behind it (Assange) seems to be very flawed. The machine to discredit the author is in full force though but doing some digging shows that he is not just making stuff up.
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on June 22, 2012
I picked up this book because I'm very intrigued by WikiLeaks but didn't know much about it. For those purposes, it was perfect because it gave an overview of most of their leaks in a story format. A lot of it just devolves into a fed up former roomate bitching, but it is also to keep in mind that it was originally written in German, where they have a different writing style. Not a bad book, but not a great book either.
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on October 19, 2013
Daniel Domscheit-Berg's "Inside Wikileaks" is a very weak book. The central premise can be summed up as "Julian Assange is a bad person and should feel bad about himself." I strongly suspect this book was in part an attempt to cash in on the Wikileaks name, and was in part to hype Domscheit-Berg's Open Leaks project (how did that work out for you, Daniel?). There are plenty of people who viscerally hate the things Assange has done, but this account is much more personal. It comes across like the sort of petty vitriol and bitching you often hear from a teenager whose high school romance has hit the rocks.

In addition to Domscheit-Berg's intense bias against Assange, this book adds his extremely poor writing skills. The book is riddled with typographical errors, sloppy, boring, and banal prose, and a tenth-grade level of writing. As far as an account of what the cover calls "My Time with Julian Assange at the World's Most Dangerous Website", left in the background are events such as the Scientology leaks (a very significant period of activity for Wikileaks as it took on the powerful Scientology organization), the German Toll Collect material, and the Afghan War Diaries (another major turning point for Wikileaks). Domscheit-Berg so intensely focuses on his personal conflict with Assange that he loses his ability to write much about the work of Wikileaks itself. As a result of his disgust with Assange and his inability to form coherent, convincing words, Domscheit-Berg has produced a book that is petty, completely one-sided, and in the end quite boring.

To write a book about Wikileaks that is boring is a perversely interesting accomplishment as there is nothing about the saga of Wikileaks and Julian Assange that most people would find boring. So I guess there's that.
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on March 3, 2011
I'd wanted to pick this up for awhile, but after seeing how short it was and the largish typeface, I figured what the hell -- popped it open and read the thing while burrowed in an enclave at Borders. It should have been chucked back on the shelf long before I finished, quite frankly, but I wanted to be absolutely certain that I hated it as much as I thought I did.

At no time did Domscheit-Berg approach any semblance of meaningful insight; if you were hoping for anything beyond a lengthy discharge of mostly banal tripe, I recommend looking elsewhere. It's a series of what amount to lackluster, underwhelming blog posts quickly jimmied together for profit. It's Ricki Lake masquerading as 60 Minutes.

It's hard to blame Domscheit-Berg for making an effort to cash in on his circumstances, but going forward, he'd do well to remember that cringe-worthy opportunism should at least be somehow entertaining. This book wasn't, and had I paid, sadly, it'd probably have been the first time I'd utilized the return policy.
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on October 9, 2011
This reads like a bad letter from a bitter ex-girlfriend. Domscheit-Berg passively down talks Assange's character and morals, while, at the same time, tries to portray himself as a victim. It's a typical "he said, she said" high school break up fight.

I don't know much about WL or OL, so I'm very impartial and ignorant. I just wanted to learn more about what the organization is, but instead I learned how two heterosexual men break up with each other. And the last chapter? What was that about? It quickly turned into an OpenLeaks marketing brochure.
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on December 1, 2013
The book itself was in fair condition, as advertised. As far as the content of the book goes, I have never read such a tragic romance in my life. The writing style is actually captivating and I have read it twice since purchasing it. Incredibly fascinating.
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on February 18, 2011
(1) Is the author one of the founder of the Wikileaks?
I do not consider the author the founder of Wikileaks. He did a lot of work, especially in Germany (because J can only speak English), but he is not the founder because he did not come up with the original ideas. (He noted that in the "Acknowledgment" section of the book.)

(2) Is it normal to have some disagreement, or even mild conflict, between bosses and the subordinate??
Yes, it is normal in almost all the organizations. Apparently Wikileaks is no exception. However, the author seems try to argue that the conflict is unique and largely due to J's fault.

(3) Is it normal to move on after one learns enough about the business?
Yes. The author can conduct many projects independently so he is ready to open his own shop. I applaud his courage and determination.

(4) Is it normal to write a book with details of personal conversations, knowing many Wikileaks' sworn enemies could capitalize on those materials?
No. Maybe the author needs a pay-back after working tirelessly for Wikileaks without compensation for 2+ years. But some of the details he portrayed in his book would likely harm the organization and the cause which he said he had cherished very much.

After finishing reading the book, I think that the author failed to comprehend that Wikileaks is not just an organization about servers or technical infrastructure. It is about empowering and inspiring ordinary citizens, living in democracy or otherwise, and making them act collectively to shape a better world for themselves and their children.

The old world order is collapsing and a new world order is emerging ( Rapid economic growth in BRIC countries; global financial crisis; economic stagnation and debt crisis in most developed world; Bolivarian Revolution in South America; Popular Uprising in the MiddleEast; etc.) But the future is far from certain: will the banking cartels and coalition of multi-nationals gradually take over control of the global economy and politics, or will the ordinary citizens take back their power and become once again active participants in writing their collective destiny?

Wikileaks, along with those secret sources of the leaks, is a major contributor to this process, and would likely sway the final outcome of the struggle.
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on June 11, 2011
I did find it somewhat interesting to see the observations on what sort of personality was responsible for creating Wikileaks. This took some aspects of paranoia, some anarchistic tendencies, a bit of hacker and geek tossed into the mix, and a significant amount of self assured and domineering entrepreneurial spirit.

That said, this book got tiring fast. That much information on the quirks of Assange and his continuing conflict with those around him was excessive. It was probably cathartic for Domscheit-Berg to write, but not of general interest.

I was interested to see how Openleaks will differ from Wikileaks. I will be curious to see if this new whistle-blower conduit will actually materialize. Wikileaks itself sounds like it is down for the count.
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