WikiLeaks' self-acclaimed leader, Julian Assange is the new rebel with a cause, and a computer. In fact, he might be a geek gone wild, a techno-hero hacker, or just the smartest, damn businessman we've ever encountered. You know, he could have been the next Mark Zuckerberg. Yes, think about it. WikiLeaks gets to decide what and who stands naked before the world. Facebook pushes the boundaries of what is private and what is public. Perhaps this is just two sides of the same coin. Both have lived outside the box, are hackers of a sort, and have surrounded themselves with wickedly smart cyber wizards. But one creates an industry, better known as Facebook, and the other is on the path to being charged for treason. Maybe it was the likes of business maven, Sheryl Sandberg that kept Mr. Facebook from falling overboard into complete hacker land. Or maybe it was something intrinsically different about Mark Zuckerberg, and his own moral compass. After all, he did use Harvard as his staging ground, not the Pentagon.
All of which begs further musing about the hacker culture, dear Julian, and his merry band of malcontents. They sure have managed to jump onto a very different kind of world stage of their making. Indeed it's been a long and arduous journey for these folks from the deep, dark outlaw weblogs of San Francisco's hacker community to traveling the world. Maybe it's the fame and spotlight that they wanted all along. Admittedly, Mark Zuckerberg is now rich and famous at an ever so young age, and dear Julian had been forced to keep trolling for fame, and certainly fortune for at least an extra decade or two. And yes, hacking is a kind of world that thrives by living on the edge in the pursuit of truth, good and brilliance. It has its own rules, and ways of doing things. Still both men are embroiled in the debate over privacy and security. But one works out his stuff from inside the game, and the other from way outside. Yet Andy Greenberg of Forbes brilliantly recognizes Assange, as a "prophet of a coming age of involuntary transparency, the leader of an organization devoted to divulging the world's secrets using technology unimagined a generation ago." Maybe this is the new definition of a hacker hero that does things for the grander good, but without regard for collateral damage. One still has to ask the question about Julian Assange and his internal compass. He just seems to having too good a time in front of the television cameras for comfort which begs the money trail question. When the curtain is pulled back, who will be standing there? Will it be China, Iran or maybe even North Korea? Who would appeal to the anarchist manifesto or the hacker creed? That's just one more fascinating question that has been left on the table as everybody is talking trash about WikiLeaks and Julian Assange.
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