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WikiLeaks and the Age of Transparency Paperback – March 15, 2011

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Editorial Reviews


Praise for WikiLeaks and the Age of Transparency

"An absorbing, comprehensive examination of one of the most vital issues of our time." —Publishers Weekly

"It's not a dig-up-the-dirt-on-Julian-Assange volume . . . In this work, Sifry examines other fronts in the battle for openness." —Mother Jones

“The effects of the ongoing WikiLeaks are cumulative––sort of like mercury poisoning––and reveal much about how dreadful many of our policies, especially regarding the war in Afghanistan, have been. With insight and clarity, Micah Sifry explores the red-hot spot where politics and the Internet intersect. An indispensable resource for the future fight over secrecy and openness.” —Arianna Huffington

“No one better grasps the interplay between innovative media technology and politics than Micah Sifry.” ––Kevin Phillips, author, Bad Money: Reckless Finance, Failed Politics, and the Global Crisis of American Capitalism

“A leading participant in and observer of how the Internet is changing politics and society, Micah Sifry has given us a riveting, from-the-trenches report on how the clash between power, truth, access, transparency and small-d democracy is unfolding in our newly hyper-networked world. Inspired by WikiLeaks and the urgent debates that have been ignited by that phenomenon and its founder, Sifry explores the rise of the transparency movement in the US and around the world. This is a fascinating, trenchant and personal guide for smart, engaged people who seek to understand the new realities of this age of transparency.” —Katrina vanden Heuvel

“Micah Sifry doesn’t just know WikiLeaks. He sees how it relates to everything from the Obama’s victory to the Tea Party’s appearance to electoral politics in Croatia, and he uses his incredible breadth of experience to show us how WikiLeaks is part of a large, long-term trend in favor of the spread and visibility of information about our world, including information people often don’t want shared.” —Clay Shirky

“Just one piece of a much larger story of how the people and the powerful relate to each other: That’s how Micah Sifry sees WikiLeaks. By studying so carefully how technology is changing politics, he’s been preparing for years to write this book. We should be grateful that he actually did.” —Jay Rosen, Professor of journalism, New York University; author of

About the Author

Micah Sifry is the co-founder and executive editor of the Personal Democracy Forum (where Assange has spoken twice), editor of its award-winning blog, and a senior technology adviser to the Sunlight Foundation. A former editor and writer at The Nation magazine, he is the author of one book (Spoiling for a Fight, 2002), co-author of another (Is that a Politician in Your Pocket?, 2004) and co-editor of two anthologies: The Iraq War Reader (2003) and The Gulf War Reader (1991). He is also a member of the board of Consumers Union. His personal blog is at --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Counterpoint (March 15, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1582437793
  • ISBN-13: 978-1582437798
  • Product Dimensions: 7 x 5 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #553,081 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

8 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Malvin VINE VOICE on April 2, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
"WikiLeaks and the Age of Transparency" by Micah L. Sifry offers both a philosophical and practical assessment of the WikiLeaks phenomenon and the revolutionary path it may portend for the future. Mr. Sifry, who has years of experience reporting on technology and working for the cause of greater transparency and accountability in government, is the right man for the job. Mr. Sifry's keen perceptiveness and familiarity with many of the key players in the openness movement (including several interactions with Julian Assange) has prepared the author to deliver an extraordinarily astute and thought-provoking book.

Mr. Sifry does a superb job of contextualizing WikiLeaks' moment in history. Mr. Sifry describes as only he can how the Internet has provided a platform for the distribution of information, with results that can be quite discomfiting to those in power. He believes the controversy surrounding WikiLeaks has to do with its spectacular exposure of the contradictions of U.S. government policy: in which the rights of people elsewhere to challenge sovereign power is expressed on the one hand; while on the other hand, little to no tolerance is permitted when its own privileges might seem to have come under scrutiny.

Sharing his own personal experiences, Mr. Sifry discusses many lesser-known web sites that are subtly but inexorably changing politics as we know it. As Mr. Sifry demonstrates, the overall trend has been towards the wider sharing and use of information.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By sien on April 16, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Wikileaks and the Age of Transparency (2011) by Micah Sifry is an interesting but flawed book about Wikileaks and how the internet is changing politics. It uses the fame of Wikileaks to promote the author's own agenda.

Sifry is a successful and interesting person who set up the Personal Democracy Forum and works with Techsoup in similar domains. The book refers to his endeavors repeatedly. It's a serious problem with the book that it is annoyingly self-promoting.

What's good about the book is that it places Wikileaks in context which is so important and is often so lacking in discussions about Wikileaks. Sifry points out that Crypthome was doing what Wikileaks does long before it did but hasn't had nearly the impact that Wikileaks has had. In addition to this Wikileaks is just one of a myriad of sites and movements that the internet has made possible. Sifry discusses the Move On movement, the Tea Party and the uprisings in the Middle East and points out that they have a lot in common.

Sifry writes about how the internet means that far more government, corporate and non-profit information is now available easily to people. He also writes about how various government have repeatedly made noise about how they would put more information online and then have usually backed off.

Sifry also makes good points about Wikileaks and points out that what it is doing is providing information that causes foreign regimes problems with openness, such as with Wikileaks role in Kenya and other places, but that it is also doing it to Western democracies.

The book contains a lot of good ideas but is flawed.
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7 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on April 16, 2011
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Micah Sifry's work has long been at the cutting edge of the intersection of technology and policy. (Note: He's a friend.) In this book, he does a terrific journalistic service: He connects the dots and offers context.

The book, as the title suggests, is less about WikiLeaks -- though there's plenty of nuanced discussion about that controversial media innovator -- than about the emerging information ecosystem. Transparency is being forced upon opaque institutions and practices. On balance this is a positive development, but the downsides are not trivial.

If you want to know why WikiLeaks matters so much, how it fits into that wider ecosystem and why these developments are so important to the future of politics and policy, you won't find a better place to start than this book.
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