When American diplomats can share information in Diplopedia, why can’t Norwegian bureaucrates do the same? Or let information flow through the intrapedia (I don’t know if the word exists, but the idea is to combine an intranet with the wiki concept).
Diplopedia is the U.S. State Department’s internal wiki (not open for the public), and it consists of useful topics, such as biographies, reading lists and ordering lunch (and how to get the food into the State Department’s building…) According to Wikipedia, since the start in September 2006, “the Diplopedia project hosted more than 4,400 substantive articles, is edited by 1000 registered users, and has had 650,000 page views.” That is pretty impressive! Here is more about the wiki culture in the State Departement, and some of my ideas on wiki foreign policy.
Intellipedia is another information sharing system used within the United States Intelligence Community.
I think the Diplopedia is a really good idea, even though it’s not available for the public. The next step would of course be to open up sections that are open for the public. And this kind of internal (and external) wiki system should be used by many more organizations. Pål Hivand has written about it here and here (in Norwegian), and I like his ideas about how his next intranet will look like a combination of Facebook, Twitter, CentralDesktop, and Prologue.
Clay Shirky is explaining Wikipedia’s success in his book, Here Comes Everybody (which I have written about here). Despite that relative few people contribute to Wikipedia (fewer than 2 percent of Wikipedia users), it is enough to create incredible value for the users. But why would anyone bother writing an encyclopedia entry for example about asphalt or salt back in 2001? Because no one had and it was so easy to contribute and it could be short or long, it was up to you.
Another point is that “many more people are willing to make a bad article better than are willing to start a good article from scratch”, in other words, worse is better (and worse will get better, as Wikipedia clearly has proven). Shirky says “the early successes of a simple model created exactly the incentives (attention, the desire to see your work spread) needed to create serious improvements”.
An internal wiki can do more than spreading information efficiently in an organization, it can also break down heavy bureacratic barriers. As Eric Johnson from the Office of eDiplomacy says, “if wikis can work at the State Department, with its fabled bureaucracy and need to pay attention to protocol and word choice, they can work anywhere.”