Arabist on Wikileaks @ SXSW

I'll be taking part in a panel on Wikileaks at South by SouthWest's Interactive Festival in Austin, TX, on 15 March. The panel will include Alan Rusbridger, editor of the Guardian; Carne Ross, Executive Director of Independent Diplomat; Sarah Ellison of Vanity Fair; Stephen Engelberg of ProPublica and myself:

Wikileaks began as an audacious idea, a statement about the potential of the internet to speak truth to power and to open governments. Barely four years later, the whistleblower's website finds itself at the centre of an unprecedented global storm over the leaking of hundreds of thousands of confidential cables from US embassies around the world. To many WikiLeaks's founder Julian Assange is a hero who has shone the bright glare of public scrutiny into places governments would rather keep hidden; to others he is a vandal, taking a sledgehammer to the secrecy all states need to maintain to function. Is Wikileaks just one expression valve for the web, one that would be replaced by others if it was closed? Has it changed the public's understanding of and relationship to government in any real and lasting way, or is it a media preoccupation?

And of course I'll also be hanging around SXSW for a few days starting Sunday. Happy to meet any Arabist readers in Austin.

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Issandr El Amrani

Issandr El Amrani is a Cairo-based writer and consultant. His reporting and commentary on the Middle East and North Africa has appeared in The Economist, London Review of Books, Financial Times, The National, The Guardian, Time and other publications. He also publishes one of the longest-running blog in the region, www.arabist.net.