Monday, January 5, 2009

Wikis for Good

A wiki is a page or collection of Web pages designed to enable anyone who accesses it to contribute or modify content, using a simplified markup language. The collaborative encyclopedia Wikipedia is one of the best-known wikis. Wikis are used in business to provide intranets and Knowledge Management systems. The power of this technology is only just now being tapped, but given the complexity of environmental issues, tools like these will be critical to understanding issues and building consensus around solutions. The groups exploring wiki technology are surprising:

  • The United Nations (UN), notorious for endless deliberations, is looking to technology to help facilitate consensus. Its Global Compact Office, which promotes corporate responsibility, has embraced the wiki in hopes that it will help staff in 80 countries share information and reach common understanding with less deliberation and more speed. This project intends to review and tag thousands of separately generated UN reports so that they are searchable and more easily accessible.
  • IBM has used internal wikis since 2005, with the intention of selling the concept to its clients. IBM has incorporated the wiki and other collaborative software into its corporate products like Lotus Notes, a desktop software for accessing e-mail and other applications.
    Sixteen U.S. intelligence agencies have begun using a common wiki called Intellipedia, a government-run—and top-secret—information-sharing source that allows them to merge research and intelligence gathering.
  • WikiCongress—a user-generated Capitol Hill founded by former U.S. congressional staffers—lets the public vote on bills, create petitions and propose new policy, and then forwards the results to legislators.

So if all of these wikis are in play, how can we leverage wikis to help the green movement? Try Wikipedia's new Sustainable Wiki and contribute your content!

Source: Power in Numbers: How wiki software is reforming bloated bureaucracies and changing the face of communication, Newsweek, Jessica Bennett, August, 2007.


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