It seems I can't get wikis off my mind these days. And it's not just because of that juicy story about Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales and his one night stand from Hell, Rachel Marsden.
Just last month WikiLeaks.org was all over the blogosphere after Swiss bankers tried to pull the plug on the site for anonymous whistle blowers. These days, WikiLeaks is posting videos of protests in Tibet that were censored by the Chinese government -- a bit more important (and closer to the site's primary mission) than exposing the dirty money launderers of the Cayman Islands.
Anonymous collectives like WikiLeaks are proving themselves to be excellent weapons in battling bullies and confronting tyranny, from China to Clearwater, Florida. Today's case in point: Anonymous vs. the Church of Scientology. Anonymous is a wiki that decided to take on the CoS after the organization tried (and failed) to erase the infamous Tom Cruise video from the Net. In January it launched a DDOS attack against the church's Web sites. Since then it's been organizing monthly protests outside various Scientology 'orgs.'
Last month nearly 10,000 protestors gathered outside Scientology offices in 50 cities, many of them wearing Guy Fawkes masks a la the film V is for Vendetta. (You'll find photos, videos, and more at WikiNews, another collaborative site.) The CoS tried to get a judge to block the March protest outside the CoS HQ in Clearwater but failed, in part because it couldn't accurately identify anyone in the organization. Though CoS named 22 members of Anonymous, some were merely bystanders at prior protests, and one was a barrista who worked at the Starbucks across the street.
CoS has posted a video that enumerates the indignities it has suffered at the hands of Anonymous "cyber-terrorists": 8,139 harassing phone calls, 3.6 million malicious e-mails, 22 bomb threats, and 8 death threats. I'm not condoning any of those actions, if the allegations are true. Though Anonymous admits its goal is to bring down Scientology, it officially denies the charges. (Though how would anyone there really know what other members are doing?) Still, I'd probably be able to muster more sympathy for CoS had it not spent the last 30 years harassing its critics and trying to snuff out negative coverage through any means necessary.
(FYI, The St. Pete Times has an excellent sub site devoted to news about the organization, including the Pulitzer Prize winning report it produced in 1980 after a dozen top-ranking CoS officials were convicted of conspiracy against the US government for bugging the Department of Justice and infiltrating the IRS. For more on that story, Google "operation snow white." Then contact me in a month when you've finished reading.)
Wikis are also increasingly popular tools for business, though it's a tad harder to be anonymous when you're a cube farmer. It's really the anonymity that makes these collective wikis work. You could even call it the 'wisdom of shrouds.'
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