What is state failure? See my conceptualisation of state failure on the right flank below.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Omissions! Cover-up! Things we don't know!

I am tired of all the talk about how the Wikileaks dump is a global public good. It is good for my research as a foreign policy analyst, it is good for some people to vent their anger at governments they didn't like in the first place, and it is also good for the Guardian's, the NYT's, and others' sites which are getting significantly more hits these days. But this is not a global public good, it just does not fit the definition. So I decided to reveal here something that... ought to be considered.
This shall also be the question of the day today. So... if tomorrow Wikileaks would suddenly decide to dump at us 250,000 diplomatic cables in Chinese, Japanese, Hindi, Urdu, Persian, Arabic or Russian... who would translate all that stuff to English? Any smart plans for that contingency, friends? Suggestions beyond "Google translate" are welcome.
In any case, it is interesting to note that for once, English language being the lingua franca may be a disadvantage to those concerned.
Breaking news... no, shattering is the right word... Shattering news: the Pakistani media teaches a lesson that should have been known before. No matter how enthusiastically it is reported on, similar stuff can even be faked. Omigod, the emperor may be faked.


Frances said...

I think Global Voices Online would certainly be involved in translation, considering they are already translating to english responses to the leaks in many countries.

Péter Marton said...

Right - I am sure there would be volunteers to help out. But it would be a lot of work, and you get far less control. Hundreds of thousands may be going through the State Dep files. The filtering process is crowdsourced. You wouldn't get anything like this if it is Chinese or Persian or you name it what kind of documents one finds in the gift box.