Sunday Speculation: WikiLeaks

My question to you right off the bat:

Do you think there is a library that is going add the Wikileaks documents to its collection for future preservation?

Wikileaks_-logoMy gut reaction is that there is and there should be. The documents, while not released on their own accord, do present a historical snapshot of our particular time. I would guess that even right now there are academics looking at the cables and matching them up to the people, times, and events of our recent history. Despite the manner of which they have reached the public, they have now become part of the public domain (more or less) and should be considered an item to acquire and integrate into a collection. It offers a glimpse into the life of a diplomat and (ironically) the kinds of candid and secret communication that are required for agents of the state to inform decision makers as to the best course of action at the time. Whether right or wrong in the end, it provides crucial insight and the data for analysis for future generations of diplomats.

And why not? The Library of Congress has already acquired Twitter’s archive. Although, they are not in a position to collect the cables since they are currently blocking access to them.  While I would guess that over time the LoC would reverse such a decision (yes, it’s a speculative guess), but the same current underlying rationale may not be a bar for upper echelon political science schools. What better way to inform the politicians and diplomats of tomorrow than with the cables of today?

Maybe I’m wrong. What do you think? Would/should a library collect the Wikileaks cables? Why or why not?

6 thoughts on “Sunday Speculation: WikiLeaks

  1. To be honest, I don’t understand why they’re blocking it in the first place. It’d be different if it was a case of making material available that wasn’t readily available elsewhere – the rest of the world is reading it in their papers, but Americans can’t read it within the Library of Congress? Seems a bit pointless really… To answer your question, this material should definitely be archived, if it’s not happening already.

    • I guess my greater wonder and concern is for colleges and universities that receive federal money (in one way or another) being discouraged from adding it to their collection because of the sensitive nature of the cables.

  2. Pingback: Tweets that mention Sunday Speculation: WikiLeaks « Agnostic, Maybe --

  3. The cables are a dilemma for students also. A State Dept. official contacted Columbia University and its Career Services to advice against commenting on the cables anywhere on the Internet. Students interested in government service (particularly international affairs) would go through a rigorous background check and any comments would not look good.

    I went through a background check myself when there was still was a Soviet Union. Questionaires were sent to all types of people in my life asking if I was a communist or had talked about communism. (All I needed was a pass to get into the State Dept bldg to intern at the Agency for International Development.) The check these days must be huge and the
    footprints left on the Internet can be damning, even for “regular” jobs.

    My hope is that some library would have the courage to archive the cables. I’m sure some progressive organization would love to do the same but the issue there would be money.

    • Yeah, I saw that on Mashable. I think it’s certainly a hot potato now, but it won’t always be one. And it’s another for students not to comment on it versus a library archiving it for the future.

  4. The information is still classified. Until it is declassified, it is not for public consumption even if it is posted on a website.

    Secondly, the information is stolen property. Would you knowingly add DVDs to your library’s collection that a patron kindly copied from Netflix? No, of course not. What if a patron dropped off brand new books that he stole from the bookstore?

    Trafficking in classified documents is illegal. If you dislike this, then petition to change the law. This is America, not Soviet Russia. The lovely thing about democracy is the ability to change the government by the will of the people using the democratic process–not by stealing stuff.

    A library that participates in any way with these documents is an accomplice to theft.

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