I can’t imagine what horse trading took place behind the scenes before the management at the State Services Commission (SSC) agreed to run a wiki for people interested in using the web for public participation.
If you believe the myths, wiki are risky as people can write what they want without regard to truth or honestly, and equally as easily people can tear down what has been written. And wikis can suffer from a lack of participation, so are merely gaunt skeletons. All good reasons not to tread this path.
So far the ParticipatioNZ wiki has attracted a lot of interest. 140 members and almost 4,000 visits in a few weeks. The main contributors so far are the team behind the online participation project at the SSC, but other members are throwing some ideas and links forward.
The wiki is being run to support community engagement practitioners, theorists and techies to talk with each other and share. It supplements face-to-face meetings (about which I’ve written before, see “Participatory GIS“), and actually acts as an archive of notes and audio recordings from the presentations.
One of the main features on the wiki is an open process being run to develop guidelines for using tools/ applications on the Internet for public participation run by New Zealand government officials.
As befits the core philosophy of wikis: anyone who has an interest in online participation can register, create and edit pages, and enter into discussions. There is a resource section being developed, in a crazy, chaotic, random sort of way.
SSC are offering good support with a help desk running during office hours. Email prompts and reminders at meetings are being used to keep the new tool visible.
There is little evidence of scary comments or inappropriate pages, which will keep the SSC bosses happy. I’m hoping the discussion will heat up once the participation crowd get more actively involved.