Fear of Wikis may grow after Wikileaks

Have you ever edited a Wiki, let alone created one? It’s a lot of work at the front end to start one. I used to create small wikis on WetPaint for projects just to let a handful of people collaborate, since it eliminates the back-and-forth emails, and the friction that may arise about editing rights to a document.

But each time I recommend creating a wiki, I see a lot of blank stares; eyes begin to roll. No surprise. After all, it still involves understanding a bit of code, and is not as sexy as say a blog platform. But I suspect that the fear-and-loathing factor will now come into play, with the latest round of Wikileaks.

The media covers it more as a cat-and-mouse game with Julian Asange on the run. The Wikileaks.info site itself has been under attack appareantly, and is being mirrored elsewhere.

The site carries this line, “Have documents the world needs to see?” which is all about contributing and sharing. Wikipedia, whose central tenet is centered around sharing (“People of all ages, cultures and backgrounds can add or edit article prose, references, images and other media here.” ) is all about creating information that people may need to access.

There are other Wikis worth taking a look at, if only to diffuse the anxiety about sharing documents online.

  • Take Open Congress. It claims to be “an online encyclopedia about Congress, but more than that, it’s built entirely by readers like yourself. You can write about the importance of a particular vote on a critical piece of legislation, or document your senator’s position on issues like foreign policy, taxation and the environment.”
  • There are Education Wikis like this, created by Librarians, Charter schools, drama teachers. There are platforms such as Knol, and Open Education Wiki.

And I am only scratching the surface of how wide and deep Wiki use is. I just hope, once the WikiLeaks rumpus blows over, we will see a lot more valuable work on wikis.

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