The kerfuffle about the Twitter Packs got me thinking about the wiki model and open collaboration more generally. It seems to come down to how much you trust openness. Which really means how much you can trust others.
Maybe it’s because of where I work – the culture of the federal bureaucracy here in Canada is the exact opposite of open collaboration. When you are trying to get something done, you constantly run into walls thrown up by others protecting their turf. Information flows are routinely restricted (I heard someone recently – was it the Everything is Miscellaneous guy? – joking that one could define the management function as preventing information from getting around) . If I had to generalize, I’d say that civil servants do not trust each other. Trying to deal with this all the time sure gets tiresome.
So you can see why I find that online collaboration is such a breath of fresh air. It amazes me to see how willing people are to share, to help, to participate online. And generally how well it works. Wikipedia, warts and all, is the poster child for this I guess. Sure the idea of an open wiki that anyone can edit is far from perfect, and the crowd often shows an appalling lack of wisdom, and haters will always be out there. So it would be wise to think carefully about what you choose to do in the social space online. But I still figure that it’s worth a try. Is it?