Colin Delany January 18, 2007

Fascinating Use of a Wiki to Encourage Open Government


It’s not exactly wiki-ing the power structure in the sense that I talked about it a couple of months ago, but it’s probably a more practical approach to using a wiki to influence government policy. As Elizabeth Williamson wrote in the Post on Monday (in an article tucked into the bottom of the Federal Page, if I remember right), a site called WikiLeaks.org has been set up to allow anonymous posting of sensitive government documents from around the world. As their site says:

Wikileaks is developing an uncensorable Wikipedia for untraceable mass document leaking and analysis. Our primary interests are oppressive regimes in Asia, the former Soviet bloc, Sub-Saharan Africa and the Middle East, but we also expect to be of assistance to those in the west who wish to reveal unethical behavior in their own governments and corporations. We aim for maximum political impact; this means our interface is identical to Wikipedia and usable by non-technical people. We have received over 1.2 million documents so far from dissident communities and anonymous sources…

Wikileaks opens leaked documents up to a much more exacting scrutiny than any media organization or intelligence agency could provide. Wikileaks will provide a forum for the entire global community to examine any document for credibility, plausibility, veracity and falsifiability. They will be able to interpret documents and explain their relevance to the public. If a document comes from the Chinese government, the entire Chinese dissident community can freely scrutinize and discuss it; if a document arrives from Iran, the entire Farsi community can analyze it and put it in context.

Fascinating — the idea of using a wiki to focus the collective intelligence of the Internet on documents that have largely been hidden from public view until now. Who’s behind it? “Wikileaks was founded by Chinese dissidents, mathematicians and startup company technologists, from the US, Taiwan, Europe, Australia and South Africa.” Hmmmmm, I suspect the Chinese government LOVES this one…you wanna bet the Great Firewall of China blocks it?

cpd

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