Jimbo (Wikipedia) Wales calls for Wiki Politics

By Howard Rheingold, published at 10 May 2007 - 8:12pm, last updated 11 years 27 weeks ago.

I went to a meeting a few months ago that Jimbo (Wikipedia) Wales called, about doing something about getting American politics out of the stupid, corrupt, polarized rut it's been in. I admire Jimbo's capacity to think big and to trust people. Yesterday, he took the opportunity to publish an Independence Day "open letter to the political blogosphere." Check out the mission statement. Join the mailing list if you are interested. One important contribution to political discourse that we could all adopt from Wikipedia is the "neutral point of view" process: Because anyone who disagrees with you can change your wiki entry with the click of a mouse, it is necessary to clearly articulate the different points of view on a subject -- and to state them well enough that someone who disagrees with your own point of view won't be motivated to edit your statement.

I am launching today a new Wikia website aimed at being a central meeting ground for people on all sides of the political spectrum who think that it is time for politics to become more participatory, and more intelligent.

This website, Campaigns Wikia, has the goal of bringing together people from diverse political perspectives who may not share much else, but who share the idea that they would rather see democratic politics be about engaging with the serious ideas of intelligent opponents, about activating and motivating ordinary people to get involved and really care about politics beyond the television soundbites.

Together, we will start to work on educating and engaging the political campaigns about how to stop being broadcast politicians, and how to start being community and participatory politicians.

How will we do that? Is it possible? Jimbo, are you crazy?

Ok, I might be crazy. I founded Wikipedia, which is of course about as crazy an idea as anyone might imagine. And you know what? I was not and I still am not smart enough to figure out how to make Wikipedia work. The Wikipedians figured that out, my role has only been to listen and watch, and to guide us forward in a spirit of sincerity and love to do something useful.

So, I will frankly admit right up front: I don't know how make politics healthier. But, I believe that you do. I believe that together we can work, this very election season, to force campaigns to use wikis and blogs to organize, discuss, manage, lead and be led by their volunteers.

We can turn this into the first beginnings of what is to come. This can be the start of the era of net-driven participatory politics. And it does not matter if you are on the right, on the left, moderate or extreme, socialist or libertarian. Whoever you are, and whatever you believe, you can share with me my sincere desire that the process start to be about substance and thought, rather than style and image.