February Book Club
Civic tech isn’t just about coding and designing. There are a lot of great books and articles out there that address society, culture, technology, discrimination, economics, and all those other things we care about. So lets read and talk about some of them.
Should all government data be made public and subject to civic scrutiny? Or does the government have a justifiable need to withhold certain data from the eyes of the voting public? Wikileaks has been navigating this complicated space between accountability and state security since its founding in 2006. And Wikileaks’ primary figurehead, Julian Assange, has become an equally complicated figure in the media since Wikileaks first made headlines. He became so famous, in fact, that Google co-founder Eric Schmidt decided to pay him a visit in 2011 while doing a series of interviews for a book profiling tech leaders across the globe. What ensued is a fascinating conversation between two starkly contrasting views on technologies of archiving and surveillance: one that exults in the question of “What can we do?” with our technologies, and one that asks “What should we do?”.
In When Google Met Wikileaks, Assange reproduces the full transcript of the 2011 interview between himself and Eric Schmidt. What it reveals is a fascinating philosophical debate on security, accountability, and morality within our technological realms. Assange also details his philosophical vision behind Wikileaks–the vision of a future-proofed technological infrastructure that provides a backbone for civic openness and accountability. “We all live off the intellectual record,” he claims, “so what we want to do is get as much into the record, prevent as much as possible being deleted from the record, and then make the record as searchable as possible” (When Google Met Wikileaks, p. 144).
Curious? You can check out Assange’s interview on DemocracyNow! to get a little more background about the book.
In February, Open Twin Cities will partner with the University of Minnesota CodeWork group to host this book club discussion. We look forward to seeing you there!
You can access the interview/book at:
- Original audio recording and interview transcript (free on Wikileaks)
- E-book purchase from O/R Books (DRM-free, and you can even purchase with bitcoin!)
This is a pretty short read, but if you only have time to look at few of the book sections, focus on: “From Those Who See, To Those Who Act” and “Total Publishing”.
As usual, food will be provided.
Want to help organize future book clubs? Let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org
Got ideas of what to read for future book club meetings? Add them to https://workflowy.com/shared/7c2f4fb4-41d4-d38d-55c7-ec631e6d0436/ .