Buzz of the Week | Government IT gets wiki-ed

It increasingly seems that 2007 is going to be the year that government got Web 2.0. In recent months, agencies — even traditionally staid ones — have launched blogs.

Last week, government information technology met the wiki world in a public way when GovITwiki.com was launched.

The site has a Wikipedia feel to it because it uses the open-source MediaWiki software that was written for Wikipedia. The front page of the site has a list of agencies, executive initiatives, hot topics, technologies, budgets and contracts.

One big missing piece from the Government IT Wiki is any in-depth information about the site itself. There isn’t much information about who created GovITwiki.com, even simple details such as who owns it. The Web site was registered March 21.

The concept behind wikis is based on the wisdom-of-crowds theory, which argues that all of us are smarter than any one of us.
Therefore, similar to Wikipedia, anybody and everybody can edit the Government IT Wiki. So perhaps it doesn’t matter who created the site.

Federal Computer Week reporter Ben Bain found out that the wiki is a volunteer project with seven regular participants and others who have contributed an article or two. Bain had an e-mail exchange with Bob Thompson, the project’s director and a former fed, who is the only person named in connection with the site.

Again, perhaps in the wiki world, it doesn’t matter who runs these sites, yet it does seem un-Web 2.0, where information is made widely available and people can use that information to make decisions for themselves about how relevant it is.

Regardless, we will eagerly watch as the site evolves. We’ll all be watching to see if this is something that people use or whether it becomes a site that sits on the Internet’s version of the bookshelf, rarely to be used.

The Buzz contenders
#2: Al Gore wins

Al Gore worked on reinventing government as vice president and on reinventing himself after he lost the 2000 presidential election.
The world learned Friday that Gore’s new career as an environmentalist earned him a nice consolation prize — the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize. As part of his post-2000 campaign against global warming, Gore produced the Oscar-winning documentary film “An Inconvenient Truth.”

#3: Physicists win for disk miniaturization technology

Two physicists will share the 2007 Nobel Prize for physics for their
independent discovery of giant
magnetoresistance, a phenomenon that has led to a phenomenal degree of miniaturization of magnetic-disk technology. Most news stories Oct. 12 described the benefits of the technology in terms of consumers: iPods are possible because of magnetoresistance. But disk miniaturization has also produced great advances in storage technology for government imaging applications and other scientific and business applications too numerous to name. Thanks and congratulations to Peter Gruenberg of Germany and Albert Fert of France.

#4: Armed with cyber side arms

Watch out for Air Force officials bearing cyber side arms. You won’t see the side arms, but service officials will begin using them to detect cyberattacks and warn others of potential security breaches. Air Force Lt. Robert Elder explained last week how the software side arms — small programs installed on Air Force computers — will work. The discussion took place at the National Press Club at an event Air Force officials billed as “Victory in Cyberspace.”

#5: E-mail doesn’t cut it

Experts who spoke at the 2007 Program Management Summit in Washington last week said too many teams still try to manage projects by exchanging e-mail messages with one another, and hey, that’s not an ideal way to work. Nowadays, some of the most effective federal project teams are virtual. Their members are located in separate offices and often separate cities, and collaboration software keeps them on the same page.

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