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Monday, July 17, 2006

Wiki-ing politics

The idea of collective wisdom (wisdom of crowds, mobs, groups, and all that) is a bit shakey from my perspective, and I tend to think its applications are limited. I certainly would not want to run a political system on the basis of decisions emerging from collective wisdom without some major guarantees that individual liberties and lives would be protected.

Nevertheless, there is something intriguing and exciting about the idea behind Campaigns Wikia which was launched rather quietly over the past two weeks. Applying the dynamic of wikipedia to discussions of all things political will certainly generate some interesting outcomes. Even more interesting will be the talk and discussions that go on in the site's tab pages for each entry.

It is already evident that these entries will draw many self-serving types and the political crazies who believe they can fool some of the people some of the time, but the great thing about a wiki format is that with sufficient time and input from a range of folks it can counter the nuttiness and malcontents with some decent material.

Is this the web answer to the knee-jerkism of the cable news hype? Perhaps.....

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Comments on "Wiki-ing politics"

 

Blogger meditations71 said ... (7:00 PM) : 

Hi Mel. Time to have a look at your blog again, and to nitpick...

I wonder about this one: "would not want to run a political system on the basis of decisions emerging from collective wisdom"?

Isn't basically every political system, except the absolute monarchy, based on such collective decision making (even an oligarchy, although in that case the relevant "collective" is small)? Certainly it is a defining feature of democracy, ancient or modern.

Moreover, any decision on protecting invididual liberties and, say, enshrining such rights in a constitutional text (or amendments thereto) would surely be made collectively somehow?

 

Blogger Mel said ... (9:46 PM) : 

Hi Stefan:

You are right to catch me on such a sweeping statement -- and my excuse is that I was thinking more narrowly about "collective wisdom" than was indicated. I have come to associate that term with the "wisdom of crowds" thesis rather than with any kind of democratic legislative process.

I have an earlier post (June 18: http://accountabilitybloke.blogspot.com/2006/06/giving-myself-enough-rope.html) that focuses on the idea of wiki-based collective wisdom, and while I think there is much to be said for the output of such processes as a basis for deliberation and perhaps consensus-building moderation on controversial issues within communities, organizations and other large groups, I don't think it can be trusted to generate "wisdom" (in the sense of "truth") or good "political" policy (in the sense of compromises).

To rely solely or even substantially on "wisdom of crowds" mechanisms (of which the wiki approach is among the best; public opinion polls being among the worst) as the basis for democracy would require a fundamental rethinking and redefining of democracy as we popularly define it.

That all said, I really look forward to seeing what Campaigns Wikia is able to accomplish. It is still in its early stages, but if it plays out like Wikipedia might actually contribute to the improvement of our alleged democratic system.


That all said, I really look forward to seeing what Campaigns Wikia is able to accomplish. It is still in its early stages, but if it plays out like wikipedia might actually contribute to the improvement of our alleged democratic system

Mel

 

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