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July 28, 2010
Wanna know a secret?By Greyhawk
...or "Let's take a data dump!"
The wikileaks document dump, day three: is it over yet? As yet no smoking gun, no "hide the decline" - not even anything as moderately outrageous as a "call Rush Limbaugh a racist, set him on fire, throw him through a plate glass window and laugh while he dies of a heart attack" quote. In short, compared to the various document data dumps big media has mostly ignored over the past year, this one - the one that rolled out with a global light and sound show complete with bells, whistles and special features tailored to the British, German, and American markets - is pretty much lame. (And let's face it, 90k+ soulless sitreps just don't have the public attention draw that viral video snuff porn does in the first place.)
So interest fades... but again it's only day three of the public viewing. Somewhere, as you read this, people are still poring over the documents. Some are just curious (and discovering a whole new level of boredom). Others are bad guys, looking for new ways or reasons to kill people. But aside from the merely curious and the purely evil we have the truly righteous - journalists, new media and old, (and a few congressional staffers, too...) hoping against hope to discover that elusive smoking gun that will at last confirm... uh, something. Something
If so, they shouldn't feel bad - the New York Times, the Guardian, and der Spiegel all had access to the document database several weeks in advance of the lesser world, and their best and brightest came up similarly empty handed. Each has already offered their triumphant first drafts of the bottom line from the last paragraph. There actually is a revelation there, but thus far it hasn't dawned on many, in part because it's the opposite of what they desperately hoped to confirm: compared to climategate there's really not much hidden about the broader conduct and issues surrounding the U.S. military activity in Afghanistan. True, we can at long last look upon many of the classified (a term now exposed as less sexycool and more clerical than most people ever imagined) and previously unseen small parts of a whole - but that, we might rightly conclude upon examining the stockpile, is analogous to actually seeing the nails and lumber we always suspected were in the framework of our homes - or the many nuts and bolts connecting the steel and rubber and plastic that altogether make up a car - and declaring that at last we've got proof of the existence of houses and cars. (Sure, we've seen many of those parts before, and the mechanics have assured us they were all there - but who can trust 'em?)
The wikileaks dump couldn't have come at a better time for journalists. Many have just had large chunks of their own super top-secret database exposed to the light of day. You might have heard about that story - but if so it probably wasn't from them. The very people who decide that emails exposing the machinations of scientists providing crucial global warming data to governments (data that informs decisions on national security - among other things) aren't noteworthy (beyond a quick dismissal and an expression of concern for internet-based violations of personal privacy) but that a general's expressed disdain for taking a phone call from a civilian counterpart is a constitutional crisis threatening the very foundations of our Democracy would probably rather you not know to what degree those decisions are coordinated. Small wonder they'd welcome the Wikileaks distraction - and invest heavily in it. There must be something there - after all, doesn't everyone behave exactly as they do?
Posted by Greyhawk / July 28, 2010 5:50 PM | Permalink
- Or "more of the same". The Washington Post:WIKILEAKS FOUNDER Julian Assange claimed at a news conference over the weekend that the release by his organization of 391,000 classified documents on the war in Iraq was intended to "correct some of that a... Read More
November 26, 2010
I think anyone who's ever pondered the "comment" option - once only available on blogs and bulletin boards, now ubiquitous on almost any web site - will appreciate this:
The so-called faculty of writing is not so much a faculty of writing as it is a faculty of thinking. When a man says, "I have an idea but I can't express it"; that man hasn't an idea but merely a vague feeling. If a man has a feeling of that kind, and will sit down for a half an hour and persistently try to put into writing what he feels, the probabilities are at least 90 percent that he will either be able to record it, or else realize that he has no idea at all. In either case, he will do himself a benefit.
That's wisdom from the past, captured for posterity at the US Naval Institute, shared via the web on the institute's 137th anniversary.
From their about page:
"The Naval Institute has three core activities," among them, History and Preservation:
The Naval Institute also has recently introduced Americans at War, a living history of Americans at war in their own words and from their own experiences. These 90-second vignettes convey powerful stories of inspiration, pride, and patriotism.
Take a look at the collection, and you'll see it's not limited to accounts from those who served on ships at sea, members of the other branches are well-represented.
I'm fortunate to have met USNI's Mary Ripley, she's responsible for the institute's oral history program (and she's the daughter of the late John Ripley, whose story is told here). She also deserves much credit for their blog. ("We're not the Navy nor any government agency. Blog and comment freely.") We met at a milblog conference - Mary knew (and I would come to realize) that milbloggers are the 21st-century version of exactly what the US Naval Institute is all about. Once that light bulb came on in my head, I mentioned a vague idea for a project to her - milblogs as the 21st century oral history that they are.
"Put that in writing," she said (of course - see first paragraph above!) - and here's part of the result.
Shortly after the first tent was pitched by the American military in Iraq a wire was connected to a computer therein, and the internet was available to a generation of Americans at war - many of whom had grown up online. From that point on, at any given moment, somewhere in Iraq a Soldier, Sailor, Airman or Marine was at a keyboard sharing the events of his or her day with the folks back home. While most would simply fire off an email, others took advantage of the (then) relatively new online blogging platforms to post their thoughts and experiences for the entire world to see. The milblog was born - and from that moment to this stories detailing everything from the most mundane aspects of camp life to intense combat action (often described within hours of the event) have been available on the web...
And et cetera - but since you're reading this on a milblog, you probably knew that. And you know that milblogs aren't just blogs written by troops at war, that many friends, family members, and supporters likewise documented their story of America at war online in near-real time, as those stories developed.
The diversity in membership of that group is broad, the one thing we all have in common is the impulse to make sense of the seemingly senseless, and communicate the tale - for each of us that impulse was strong enough to overcome whatever barriers prevent the vast majority of people from doing the same. Everyone at some point has some vague idea they believe should be shared - we were the people who, from some combination of internal and external urging, found and spent those many half hours persistently trying to write it down.
But where will all that be in another 137 years? Or five or ten, for that matter. That's something I've asked myself since at least 2004 - when I wrote this:
Membership in the ghost battalion has grown in the years since, and an ever growing majority of those abandoned-but-still-standing sites are vanishing. Have you checked out Lt Smash's site lately? How about Sgt Hook's? If you're a long-time milblog reader you know the first widely-read milblog from Operation Iraq Freedom and the first widely-read milblog from Afghanistan are both gone from the web. If you're a relative newcomer to this world you may never even have heard of them - or the dozens upon dozens of others who carried forth the standard they set down.
If you have a vague notion that something should be done about that, (a notion I've heard expressed more than once...) then you and I and the good folks at the US Naval Institute are in agreement. Preserving the history documented by the milbloggers is just one of the goals of the milblog project, the once-vague idea that we're now making real.
And it's a big idea, if I say so myself - too big to explain in one simple blog post, so stand by for more. Likewise, it's too big a task to be accomplished by just one person. So if you're a milblogger (and exactly what is a milblogger? is a topic for much further discussion on its own) I'm asking for your help. All I'll really need is just a little bit (maybe just one or two of those half hours...) of your time, and your willingness to tell the tale.
We've already made history, it's time to save it.
(More to follow...)
The Mudville Gazette is the on-line voice of an American warrior and his wife who stands by him. They prefer to see peaceful change render force of arms unnecessary. Until that day they stand fast with those who struggle for freedom, strike for reason, and pray for a better tomorrow.
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