Neologism Watch: Adhocracy

By Alexis C. Madrigal

In a fascinating analysis of the release of the Afghanistan war logs, George Mason policy wonk Janine Wedel and journalist Linda Keenan argue that when traditional institutions break down, a new breed of power broker -- exemplified by WikiLeaks -- takes over.

"WikiLeaks has upended the old-fashioned venues of investigative journalism and watchdog organizations," they argue at the Huffington Post. "While it is surely good that WikiLeaks has emerged as a counterweight -- a tool for making the powerful squirm -- WikiLeaks has enormous power itself, the kind of unaccountable power that its founder decries."

Digital technologies enable the players to act effectively without centralization or bureaucracy, which makes them unresponsive to "traditional means of accountability." This is the dark side of WikiLeaks acting as the first "stateless news organization."

"Bureaucracy gets pushed aside by so-called "adhocracy," executive power/one-man shows flourish, with institutional checks and balances flouted," they write (emphasis added). "These are some of the signature developments of the shadow elite era, and WikiLeaks is clearly a creature of that era.

This article available online at:

http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2010/07/neologism-watch-i-adhocracy-i/60673/