William Beutler on Wikipedia

Posts Tagged ‘CIA’

Could Intellipedia Improve Wikipedia?

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on April 10, 2009 at 8:48 am

intellipedia-logoThe Intellipedia project is now a few years old, but the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (or CIA, which seems to get credit for these things on account of people knowing what it is) got a write-up in the latest Time magazine, so let’s agree for now to let Time continue its role as agenda-setters and quote from the article:

Intellipedia’s godfather is CIA analyst D. Calvin Andrus, who wrote a paper in 2004 titled “The Wiki and the Blog: Toward a Complex Adaptive Intelligence Community.” For decades, the U.S. intelligence system had been structured to answer static Cold War–era questions, like how many missiles there are in Siberia. What the U.S. needed after Sept. 11, Andrus argued, was something that could handle rapidly changing, complicated threats. Intelligence organizations needed to become complex and adaptive, driven to judgments by bottom-up collaboration, like financial markets or ant colonies — or Wikipedia. …

Sean Dennehy, 39, and Don Burke, 43, used the Andrus paper to push the idea of an intelligence-community wiki on their superiors at the CIA. They didn’t get very far until the then newly organized Office of the Director of National Intelligence concluded that the idea had potential — and even then it faced stiff cultural resistance.

The resistance met sounds no different than any other bureaucratic or vertically-structured organization adapting to a “flatter” age, but the content is undoubtedly far more interesting than whatever your average corporate wiki might have (unless maybe you work for Wonka Chocolate).

Wikipedia having inspired Intellipedia, I wonder if there’s a chance Intellipedia could return the favor. As I wrote in a post last week at the New Media Strategies blog (and belatedly cross-posted here) on Encarta’s Wikipedia-overseen demise:

[W]hy not close the loop and allow Encarta’s knowledge to be used in building out Wikipedia? After all, one area where Wikipedia is deficient is material between the copyright of the last encyclopedia edition to go into public domain and the Internet age.

Same thing here: Wikipedia often takes information directly from government documents, so why not allow material declassified from Intellipedia be to be made available for use in Wikipedia? To be sure, this could be a long time off. But it undoubtedly has illuminating data that could enhance Wikipedia in ways I can’t imagine, mostly because I have never seen Intellipedia and, barring a sudden mid-career change, almost surely never will. But you know I want to.