Sunday, April 02, 2006

33 Wikis: #10 -- DoWire Wiki -- School for E-Democracy?

This is the tenth 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: "DoWire's E-Democracy Best Practices Wiki," a project of DoWire.org, is a "collaborative drafting environment" for people interested in e-democracy. DoWire founder Steven Clift defines e-democracy as follows:

E-democracy represents the use of information and communication technologies and strategies by democratic actors within political and governance processes of local communities, nations and on the international stage. Democratic actors/sectors include governments, elected officials, the media, political organizations, and citizen/voters.

To many, e-democracy suggests greater and more active citizen participation enabled by the Internet, mobile communications, and other technologies in today’s representative democracy as well as through more participatory or direct forms of citizen involvement in addressing public challenges.

The DoWire wiki provides a workspace on the Web for both practioners and students of e-democracy to share information on tools and best practices.

Why we like it: As a front-page article in today's New York Times notes, the Internet is fast becoming the preferred medium for political communication, and DoWire's commitment to promoting the use of the Internet for more representative government may soon start getting a bigger audience. The wiki looks at experiments inside and outside the U.S. (see the pages on projects in Canada and the U.K.), and features a well-written "Best Practices Guide" based on Clift's model for e-democracy. Participants can share info on how governments are using Internet tools to get closer to their constituents, involve them more in policy-making, and in making various processes more transparent.

What we all can learn from it: If dKosopedia is a virtual school for progressives, the DoWire wiki is a virtual school for anyone interested in learning how to make the Internet work better for government. Beyond the world of politics, it also shows how a wiki can be used to evolve the way we think about deeply-entrenched institutional processes. As we'll see in the latter part of "33 Wikis," collaborative technology has also generated great conversation about the evolution of governance in business, and a number of interesting experiments are already underway.

Related links:

--e-democracy wiki
--deliberative-democracy.net wiki
--The IBM Center for Business of Government: "A Manager's Guide to Civic Engagement"
--Corante's "Civic Minded" blog

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