OK – I’ll agree that the title to this post is a little too declaratory – something I try to avoid but bear with me for a minute. Today at the Government 2.0 Summit, the Washington Post will announce the WhoRunsGov.com ‘Moderated Wiki’ a wiki that gives readers the chance to contribute to profiles of Government policymakers.
Aaron Fulkerson from Mindtouch, whose product the Washington Post is utilizing for this site, flicked me an email and told me that he feels this announcement will have fairly large implications for media companies, in his words “not only striking the best balance between open/closed content, but allowing them to monetize the hyperlocal content they’ve already produced (paid for) that currently sits dormant in their archives.”
First a little bit about the site. WhoRunsGov.com is a “moderated wiki,” a site open to readers to contribute to the 700-plus profiles of the most influential people in Washington. The site has been live since January but what is happening today is a different story – the “moderated wiki” allows users to both write new profiles and edit existing content. Unsurprisingly before any user-generated content is published, it will be reviewed and may be revised by an in-house editorial team for factors including accuracy, relevancy to the profile subject, and appropriateness.
In his email to me, Fulkerson sent me the following diagram to articulate where this site lies on the dual axes of opinion vs fact and institutional vs de-institutionalized information;
Let me say from the outset that I like this initiative – it seeks to democratize contributions, unlock siloed and archived data and find a sweet spot on the axes. But I’d also like to parse this announcement in another way.
Recently ZDNet blogger and general hype-slayer Dennis Howlett wrote the not-too-subtle post “Enterprise 2.0 – What a Crock”. In his post Howlett sought to separate the wheat from the chaff, and bring the evangelists back down to earth and reality. As he said;
Regardless of what you’re told by the E2.0 mavens, business has far more pressing problems. The world is NOT made up of knowledge driven businesses. It’s made up of a myriad of design, make and buy people who -quite frankly – don’t give a damn about the ‘emergent nature‘ of enterprise. To most of those people, the talk is mostly noise they don’t need.They just want to get things done with whatever the best tech they can get their hands on at reasonable price. That doesn’t mean some wiki, blog or whatnot. More likely they’ll be investigating sensor tech.
Now what does today’s announcement have to do with Enterprise 2.0? Well the fact of the matter is that Government 2.0 and Enterprise 2.0 are different sides of the same coin. They both seek to expose data to the stakeholders, leverage collective wisdom, utilize the wisdom of the crowds and drive better results for the respective organizations.
Now I can already hear the howls of derision from Howlett who will call it simplistic to draw this parallel between potential Government 2.0 gains and the theoretical gains to be wrought from Enterprise 2.0. I’m happy to take that attack however – as I said before, the issues facing Government and Enterprise are very similar. Solutions for one can often be parsed in terms of the other.
I’ll accept the fact that this new Washington Post site will not end world hunger or create global peace. In much the same way that deploying a collaborative platform within an enterprise will not solve core problems, suddenly create newly profitable products or stave off a commercial threat. However I do contend that tools like this start to shift the earth upon which organizations (public or private) are built. It is through this shift that real change, the change we’ve all been promised for years, is built.