The Policy Wiki: A new issue — climate change

Some of you may have read — either here or elsewhere — about one of the social-media projects that I’ve been involved with at the Globe, a joint venture with the Dominion Institute known as the Public Policy Wiki. We started the wiki in January, as a way of soliciting input from concerned Canadians about a range of public policy issues, and the first issue we launched with was the federal budget. Almost a thousand people signed up in a matter of two weeks, and we got dozens of excellent “briefing note”-style policy proposals submitted, commented on, voted on and promoted in the forums. On the day the budget was released, we took the two most popular proposals and sent them to the Finance Minister in Ottawa.

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The Policy Wiki: A social experiment

After about 15 years writing about business and technology for both the print and the online versions of the Globe and Mail, I moved into a newly-created job a few months ago as the Globe’s “Communities Editor.” It’s still evolving, but in a nutshell my job involves thinking about, developing and implementing new ways of interacting with our readers online, as well as helping to improve some of the ways in which we already do that — such as the comment feature on our news stories, which we were one of the first newspapers in North America to offer, but which needs some additional features in order for it to be truly useful.

As part of that mandate, I helped launch a site called the Public Policy Wiki several weeks ago. A joint venture between the paper and the Dominion Institute (a non-profit agency dedicated to improving the dialogue about public policy in Canada), it’s a combination of a traditional wiki — that is, a publicly-editable resource similar to Wikipedia — and a public discussion forum, with comments and voting features as well. In many ways, it’s a kind of social-media mashup aimed at pulling in suggestions from readers and other concerned Canadians about public policy issues (the Obama administration has also experimented with this kind of idea).

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The Policy Wiki: An end and a beginning

With the tabling of the federal budget this afternoon (which we are live-blogging), the Globe’s first experiment in merging public-policy debate and social-media tools — the Public Policy Wiki, a joint venture with the Dominion Institute — comes to a kind of conclusion, but the discussion that we helped start about the economy will continue as long as Canadians have ideas they wish to share.

We’ve collected the data on the two policy proposals that our contributors and readers supported the most, and we’ve sent that information to the Finance Minister as we promised. But while the budget process is now complete, the economic portion of the Policy Wiki will remain available for contributions, even as we begin a new chapter aimed at discussing Canada’s policy towards Afghanistan.

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An experiment: The Public Policy Wiki

Although it is still very much in “beta” mode (and possibly even alpha), I’d like to talk about a new project that the newspaper I work for — the Globe and Mail in Toronto — has just launched along with the Dominion Institute, a project aimed at capturing some of your thoughts and ideas about a range of public policy issues. It’s called the Public Policy Wiki, and you can find it at I mentioned it briefly on Twitter the other day, and we’ve already gotten some great input from a number of contributors.

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Is it just me, or is Intel desperate?

Okay, someone explain this to me: Intel, a company that makes microprocessors, is backing and selling — but not profiting from — a suite of “Enterprise 2.0” software for companies that includes blogging software (Typepad), a wiki (Socialtext), and RSS feed software (Simplefeed and Newsgator), called Suite Two.

Is the microchip giant hoping that a little Web 2.0 pixie dust will get sprinkled on it, just like Level 3 seems to be? It’s obviously not in it to make any money, since it has already stated that it doesn’t intend to make any from the venture. So it must be hoping that companies will need to upgrade their machines to dual-core monsters to run all that Enterprise 2.0 gee-whizzery, right? Please.


The whole point of these kinds of software is that they are lighter and more versatile — and cheaper — than traditional ways of doing business with employees and customers. So why would Intel want to bundle them up and charge an arm and a leg for them? More to the point, why would anyone go for that deal?

The implication is that big companies are so slow-moving and dim-witted that they need the Intel name to get them comfortable with anything new, and are willing to pay through the nose for it. Unfortunately, that’s probably not far from the truth in a lot of cases. And meanwhile, Intel the plumber gets to look all cool by hanging with the hip Web 2.0 crowd.


Josh Bancroft, who works at Intel, has a great overview on his blog Tiny Screenfuls.