• Mainly about engagement and collaboration using social media and events, with some asides on living in London. More about David Wilcox and also how the blog started.
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David - thanks for including my thoughts in your post ("Public wikis are like public bathrooms").

David Miliband's attempt at public discourse and concensus building is laudable but naive. The Guido Fawkes of the world are a political reality that, unproductive as it may seem, is a primary reason that, the larger and more well-known a public site becomes, the less likely it will succeed in its objective. There are better avenues to achieve his goal.

For one, the original plan of keeping the wiki private and inviting only those with a common goal was the correct instinct. This is the arena in which I like to engage.

I don't have that much experience with political or advocacy groups, but my experience with local, charitable, civic involvement type groups tells me that using private wikis to facilitate a common goal is the most effective communications and project management approach I've ever seen.

By using a private wiki to develop internal group concensus, a next step for Miliband's team could have been granting read only access to the public, developing a complementary blog, discussion forum, or some other medium that leverages the work done on the original wiki instead of compromising it.

David, Guido posted what appears to be the same comment over at my blog. In my response to him I pointed out that he hit on Miliband's wiki for political purposes when it wasn't set up for political but rather departmental policy reasons.

I argued in a post at eDemocracy Update (http://simoncollister.typepad.com/edemocracyupdate/2006/07/using_web_20_to.html) that web 2.0 tools suchas wikis and Writely offer a really good forum for debate. BUT, registartion is needed and the current formula for carrying out consultations should also be continued.

Specifically, stakeholders should be invited to participate (given registration) and then the consultation made public. Interested parties could apply to join the debate.

The tools change but the human interaction and management of the consultation stays roughly similar.

I think I disagree with Kris's point about keeping the wiki private or invite only. One of the refreshing things about Miliband's approach to social media is that (contrary to what Benn and Guido suggest) he seems to welcome different approaches and debate.

What Guido did was similar to what Stephen Colbert did to Wikipedia earlier this year, and I suspect reaction will be similar.

But the reason I don't think this should have been a private conversation is because it was/is about a contract between the individual and the state; if people don't have the chance to engage in that then the concept is doomed anyway. On top of that the perception of this government is that it is in hoc to special interests and doesn't listen. How would an invite only policy process have changed that perception?

This isn't to say there aren't lessons to be learnt.

Also disagree about keeping the wiki private. Sustainable Community Action wiki, which I founded has been going nearly 2 years now. I also had a minor involvement with the SDC's Whitehall wiki. Defra seem not to appreciate the community aspect of wiki contribuutors. I put a few things into their wiki, but some, which I'd taken care and time to craft disappeared. If vandalism then they weren't prepared. If editing by them then the're not being genuinely open or explaining their edits (or entering into any genuine dialogue). Either way end of sense of community, end of trust. Future for open stuff may be hard, but future for cosy little chats seems to me to be end of government through increasing irrelevance. (see also stuff on "When friends say...")

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