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WikiLeaks is Not a Wiki by Stephen Harrison + Black Hole Reaction
Last week a British court sentenced Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks, to 50 weeks in prison for jumping bail seven years ago when he took refuge in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London. The United States is now seeking Assange’s extradition for further prosecution. By now, Assange’s activities have been well-documented: A federal indictment lays out his role in the 2010 posting of thousands of military field reports to WikiLeaks about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. During the 2016 U.S. presidential election, WikiLeaks published nearly 20,000 emails from the Democratic National Committee. More recently, Special Counsel Robert Mueller announced that the documents posted on WikiLeaks were stolen by Russian actors to interfere with the U.S. election. After proclaiming “I love WikiLeaks!” at an October 2016 rally, President Donald Trump claimed in April “I know nothing about WikiLeaks.”
There is something specific that is often missed in discussions of Assange and the website he and his team have used to distribute information: WikiLeaks is not a wiki.
>> Continue reading my latest article for Slate
Did you see the latest episode of John Oliver on lethal injections? The general counsel for the Oklahoma Department of Corrections testified that before a botched execution, he had used “WikiLeaks or whatever” to research a drug.
AND NOW, AN UPDATE ON THE BLACK HOLE SAGA
My column last month for Source Notes told the story of Katie Bouman, the 29-year-old scientist and influential member of the Event Horizons Team, which captured the first-ever direct image of a black hole. Bouman's new Wikipedia page was unfortunately the subject of a heated deletion debate after some editors claimed she wasn't notable enough to merit her own page. After my story about Bouman was published, astrophysicist Andrew Chael reached out on Twitter to say thanks for writing the piece. Bouman and Chael were leaders of the large team that produced the image. After some back-and-forth messages, I can now report that I'm officially (online) friends with a prestigious Black Hole scientist.
In other Wikipedia news, Kyle Wilson wrote for The Verge about how Google Translate and AI generally have not reached parity with human translators, and the issues this presents for Wikipedia. For example, Google translates "village pump" as "bomb the village" in Portuguese. Read Wilson's piece on why the Wikipedia community needs to carefully consider its machine learning strategy going forward.