Thursday, March 30, 2006

33 Wikis: #7 -- SourceWatch -- The Scourge of the PR Industry

This is the seventh installment in "33 Wikis," a close look at best practices in wiki-based collaboration. Each day -- for 33 days -- we look at one wiki and briefly describe what the wiki is for, why we like it, and what we all can learn from it. If you want to nominate a wiki, please let us know. On day 34 we will post a public wiki featuring info on all nominees.

What this wiki is for: Formerly known as Disinfopedia, SourceWatch describes itself as "a collaborative project of the Center for Media and Democracy to produce a directory of the people, organizations and issues shaping the public agenda. SourceWatch's primary focus is on documenting PR firms, think tanks, industry-funded organizations, and industry-friendly experts that work to influence public opinion and public policy on behalf of corporations, governments and special interests. Over time, SourceWatch has broadened to include others involved in public debates including media outlets, journalists and government agencies."

Why we like it: Wait ... a PR agency is promoting SourceWatch, the scourge of the PR industry? Precisely. As many of you know, our world is undergoing a major transformation, and the twin trends of openness and transparency are changing everything. It only makes sense to get completely behind the right side of this battle. We may not always like what Disinfopedia has to say about world, but we like that they have figured out a way to say it, using an innovative approach -- the wiki approach -- to gather information on activities that many of us in the industry would rather ignore. Right from the front page, you'll find resources on how to research front groups, how to study propaganda, and how to do research on the Web.

What we all can learn from it: Wikis are ideal for projects like this -- they can be used to gather and expose disinformation as well as information. It's an approach that can be used in industry -- think of corporate crisis campaigns, e.g., -- as well as in politics. We'll look at the latter in the next few days.

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