Saturday, December 11, 2010

Less than 24 hours after the call went out on Twitter and Facebook for state capital rallies around the nation to voice support for Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, more than 1000 people had gathered at Sydney's Town Hall.

The grindingly predictable media gatekeepers will insist yesterday's 1pm protest was full of "the usual instacrowd" aging hippies, ferals and anarchists, but that's what they have to tell their mindwashed readers, because the truth is so much harder to absorb.

If anything, "the usual crowd" was in the tiniest minority.

Longhaired hippies and black bloc rioters were all but impossible to find.

Instead, hundreds of young people who work in city offices and businesses gave up their lunch breaks to attend. Hundreds more were middle-aged, or elderly, Australians from the inner city, from the outer western suburbs and from wealthy enclaves like Hunters Hill.

Throughout the crowd there were echoes of the same conversations. "How can they do this to him? Who did he kill?", "Look how they react when we find out what they're really saying to each other. They start jailing people!", "they call him a terrorist for exposing unvarnished truths", "this feels like something big", "Wikileaks will change history, it already has" and my favourite, "How old is too old to become a hacker?"

Julian Assange said the release of more than 250,000 classified US embassy cables will change history, maybe even the world as know it. So far, only about 1000 cables have been released, and clearly some major changes are already underway.

Like the people who gathered at Town Hall, like those who marched in Brisbane and Melbourne, and like the Gillard government, nobody knows yet just how sweeping, how historical, how paradigm-shifting these changes will actually be.

And right now, that unknowable short and long-term fallout is making the Gillard government, and those in the corporate sector with some very nasty secrets they wish to keep hidden, very, very nervous indeed.

And the cables keep coming.

I'll try to find some time next week to dive into the early history of Julian Assange's 'look-see' hacking adventures. It's fascinating stuff.

Photos from today's rally at Town Hall.

Okay, there was one guy in the crowd who you could call unusual, or something of a freak if you had to be so boring. And the man in the middle of the below image just spotted him.

His name is Glen, and he's wearing a Celtic war bonnet.

He believes the true war for control of the internet and digital freedom of speech has now begun.

Who doesn't?

Photos by Darryl Mason