7 Lessons That WikiLeaks Teaches Us

Excellent Aticle from Mitch Joel – read full version at

Too much has been written about WikiLeaks.

Most of the debate is about the legalities and moralities of what WikiLeaks is (and what it means). If you take a step back, and look at it (without prejudice and without passing legal judgment), there are many lessons about how new media acts (and reacts) that are excellent business lessons as well. Consider this a cautionary tale.

Here are 7 lessons that WikiLeaks teaches us:

  1. Transparency first. If your default position is to hide information and keep it secret, the new world is going to cause you many sleepless nights. WikiLeaks shows us that businesses will be best suited to lead with transparency first and (when no longer possible) shift to secrets as a form of integrity-based decision making to protect their „secret sauce“ (whatever that may be). Leading with being secretive has no place in our new, more transparent, world. As people divulge more and more information about themselves online and connect to more and more people, that is becoming the cultural norm, so any actions (be it by business or government) that do not have that level of transparency will be seen and felt as „hiding“ or being „secretive.“
  2. You are media. Any individual can have a thought and then be able to publish that thought in text, images, audio and/or video to the world for free (or close to it). This doesn’t just mean that everyone is a publisher, it means that every individual is (or can be) a media channel. WikiLeaks is a media entity (Mathew Ingram nailed it in his Gigaom Blog post, Like It or Not, WikiLeaks is a Media Entity). If we agree with this sentiment (and we should), all media properties need to be protected (to some degree) by our first amendment rights.
  3. Publishing has changed. This ties directly into the last point. We may not like it, but WikiLeaks is both a publisher of content and a media channel. So is this Blog. That means that we – as a society – need to re-evaluate our definition of publishing. A while back, Christopher S. Penn asked on an episode of Media Hacks if something written and published in the MMORPGgame, World of Warcraft, should be considered a book? That’s a question/debate for another Blog post, but we can all agree that it is – without question – a form of publishing. Would the mass media and academic intelligentsia consider that publishing? These newer forms of publishing threaten their business model and question their legacy (people don’t like when you do that). But, let’s face it, publishing has changed.


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