Time for wiki foreign policy?

Norwegian foreign policy as a wiki document? Would that be an intriguing idea? Open for contributions and editing from the audience?

I do understand if some diplomats would bite their tongue off if reading this, and to be honest, I’m not sure how that would work out. But why not try it out?

The reason why I write about this issue, is that I heard about the Refleks project (which means reflex) yesterday here in Brussels. And I have to admit I got a bit disappointed. “Refleks – Norwegian interests in a globalised world” is initiated by Norway’s foreign minister, Jonas Gahr Støre, and the purpose is to “invite to reflection and debate about the content of Norway’s foreign policy in modern time”.

A great, but very broad idea, and thus, somewhat unclear. The leaders of the project talked about the different challenges confronting Norway (oil, climate, energy, work force, pension fund, foreign aid, international laws, identity, and a few words about EU – which always creates lots of controversy among Norwegians).

The ideas clearly lacked priorities at this point of the discussion, but what I’m also concerned about, it the lack of digital tools to bring this project out to the people and opening up for online discussions. In 2008, that should be obligatory, even for a governmental department.

If you have a look at the Refleks site, you can read several relevant documents, but there is no digital interaction at all, except from the possibility to send an e-mail to refleks@mfa.no. The debate that is suppose to occur around Norway’s future foreign policy, will clearly not take place online. But in public meetings, such as at Oslo’s Litteraturhuset (where they are sure to meet the cultural elite) and among established organizations and experts. But what about “the wisdom of crowds” and smart mobs, because they are clearly alive and kicking in Norway as well?

A debate forum would be the minimum, a blog/twitter to follow the development of the project as well. And perhaps a place where people could cross off which political topics should be highest on Norway’s priority list. Much cooler though, would it be if the ministry dared to open up for users to build new services for the web site in a beta, similar to what Rune Røsten suggested here (via AndreasLunde).

The Ministry of Government Administration and Reform has already gotten a very clear advice when it comes to the social web – use the new opportunities – not just to share information, but also to create eGov-wikipedia (Petter B. Brandtzæg).

But will the diplomats and bureaucrats dare?

Update: New Zealand has already used wiki to prepare a new law. In 2007, this website was set up, where the audience could edit and make suggestions to the new Police act. According to the website, they got an overwhelmingly respons, lots of ideas and suggestions for what the new Act should include.

This is really something to look into! (from Boingboing via forteller)

8 thoughts on “Time for wiki foreign policy?

  1. Both the tools and the mindset are lacking. I’ve seen more examples of the same: a debate invitation about sustainable development and another one about public service broadcasting where the only debate tool was an email address…

    Regarding the diplomats – they should wikify their whole system of embassy personnel reporting “home” about issues in their region. Imagine what a fantastic internal database that would be!

  2. Thanks for these great comments, guys. This shows what kind of ideas you can get if you allow the online audience to participate – keep them coming! I just hope the Refleks-people are reading these comments (I’ve e-mailed them).

  3. Great posting. So far it seems that governments are not using the potential in social media to strengthen democracy on local or national level. Again New Zealand is a frontrunner like on social welfare reforms – but where are the Scandinavian countries?

  4. Pingback: Time to steal some ideas from Obama « Bente Kalsnes’ blog

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