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< Proceedings:MK2

Mitch Kapor

(Level Playing Foundation, Chair of Linden Labs Advisory Board)

History of being in early on disruptive technologies--PC, Commercial Internet, Streaming Media, Virtual Worlds, Social Production (Yochai's phrase)

Enormous implications that go far beyond original uses.

Evangelizing Wikipedia--non-profit organizations, getting them to use their intellectual capital up on wikipedia, Adoption by non-technical people.

Wikipedia as a version of a koan, that tests the users perceptions and assumptions: in order to have valuable info, need someone in charge

Don't need centralized control or expert authority to create useful knowledge.

Blogs tend to reenforce the prexisting ideologies. But wikis, as fundamentally collaborative, shape synergistically.

Blogs are the talk radio of the Internet -- a bunch of different voices screaming instead of collective organization and deliberation. What are the traits of a site that works to change politics as usual? It should be participatory. It should have the wiki process (you can see the full revision history of any change) applied to the product (you can see the political history of any user). Any movement for democratic reform has to be the thing it is trying to bring about. It should be done through citizens of equal standing, not experts. Just as Wikipedia isn't just Britannica online, this new movement would be on a different plane from politics as usual. (Perhaps they're might even be new tools to protect against unfair arguments (hiding information, cherrypicking, illogic).)

Most audiences I speak to would consider this absurd -- but that's the case with any new technology. There are no easy solutions: just putting things on a wiki won't change the world through the power of technology. What does this movement stand for? What does it believe in? This is a work in progress; we have much more to learn. But there is much more work to be done.

The Secret Sauce is not the technology, it is the ccommunity bound together by sharred principles and practices.

Linguistic Inclusion--in the early years, LOTR articles outnumbered those on Africa.

Make active efforts to recruit editors who represnt different areas of knowledge and different points of view.

Inclusion: broadly speaking, wikipedia will be molre inclusive as the means of editing it have lower barriers to non-technical people. Make it a major stretegi cpriority for the community. This may be painful but it will allow the project to epxand and grow.


  • Politics as usual is broken. (in US, but also in places like UK)
  • What is the problem? Partisanship, negativity. Ordinary people feel disempowered. But a third party is a non-starter. Politics dominated by money, special interests and sound bites. Democracy, as a great experiment in self-governance, is at risk.

Wikipedia is a proof of the power of decentralized, self-governing community to make an impact.


  • Participatory
  • Product and Process intertwined
  • Aspiration to high standard of respectful dialog. (unlike the current blogosphere)
  • Citizens of equal staure with experts

Any movement for democratic reform would have to operate via the values it seeks to achieve in the larger society. And the wiki community does this. This would be a bold thing for a political movement.

Is this absurd? Politics shuns facts and does not practice succesful collaboration. A new political movement would have to act on a different plane through active demonstration of a different model.

We need tools and software that help us argue better. Tools for on-line argumentation. A fair argument is very central. No hidden info, or incorrect info, and corrections etc. Constructive disagreement to reach conclusions to expedite this process.

The other big piece of this political movement is: what does it stand for? People need to come together around common values.