Sorry it’s been a bit quiet for a few days… I was taking a few much-needed days off. In these days of mobile and online communication, it’s more or less impossible to log in without being pulled work-wards – so I didn’t even switch the PC on. It’s the only way. Anyway…
Defra – or specifically, David Miliband – is at it again. Not satisfied with having the Cabinet’s first blog, albeit not by choice!, they’ve now become the first department (certainly that I’m aware of) to launch an open, public wiki around the drafting of an ‘environmental contract’.
Less than three weeks into his job as environment secretary, Miliband wrote a piece for the BBC News website, jointly with new transport secretary Douglas Alexander, saying:
In the 19th and 20th Centuries, progressives forged a new social contract between citizens and the state. Progressive values, new developments in social science, and popular concern came together to deliver social justice. In the 21st century, we must find the same combination if we are to address environmental security. An environmental contract needs to set out the rights and responsibilities of government, businesses, and individuals.
In what can only be described as a brave move, Miliband’s department has opened a wiki based on the Jotspot online service, which charges a smidge under $200 per month for its top package (or $995 for the year, if they qualify as ‘non profit’). For the uninitiated, a wiki – yes, as in Wikipedia – is a website which can be edited by the readership. Usually the would-be editor is made to register, for all sorts of reasons of accountability. Perhaps most intriguingly of all, the Defra website imposes no such restriction. Anybody can edit it, without even leaving their name.
It’s a stroke of genius; a perfect way to live out your values. ‘I can’t stop you polluting it (the planet or the website), but if we all work together, we can maintain something beautiful here. It’s in everyone’s interests.’ So far, a week into the experiment, it seems to be working – although to be fair, it’s been very much ‘under the radar’. Until now. 😉