2020, or 1020?
Posted by Dave Bath on 2008-04-20
Did I miss something from the coverage of the 2020 conference? I saw people with pens and paper. I saw no evidence of an internal wiki (or something similar) being used. It seems they are using 1020 technology to manage the output of our best and brightest.
I hope I’m wrong, and that someone will point out my error.
If the government couldn’t organize a search engine, and collaborative software such as a wiki and electronic whiteboard software for participants (even if they had to bring their own laptops), then I’ve got to wonder how much thought actually went into organizing this in the most productive, forward looking way.
Imagine if all the participants were working on a wiki preloaded with all the papers by each participant, all the contributions by the public, links to public documents that supported their ideas, and all the categories and cross-references that could have been automagically munged with an SQL-savvy bot.
It’s not the ideas stupid, it’s self-organizing of ideas and linkages between them that creates value! This is especially important when individuals are chatting to each other with "speed dating and red stickers": they could easily have created tags and links between two ideas in two pages in a couple of seconds.
And by close-of-business, a monkey could have run the stock standard wiki reports to produce tables of cross-references, most-linked-to pages, etc, etc, etc.
As they walked away, each participant could have been given the wiki export to take home and load up on their own computer, the wiki could have been made public with second-tier and invited-but-couldn’t-make-it folk given logins that allowed them to edit the pages.
It seems like the technology given to assist participants and make analysis and value-adding of their efforts actually useful was merely an advanced version of what was available in 1020: microphones and speakers replacing megaphones and loud voices, paper and textas rather than quills and parchment. No real innovation, again, unless I missed it.
It’s not like our best and brightest wouldn’t know how to use a wiki given that wikipedia is in the top 5 read sites in the world, and millions of people have edited wiki pages (although not necessarily in the wikipedia).
I wonder if any of our best and brightest raised the idea beforehand, whether the government read the discussion paper on efficient electronic consultation mechanisms for a recent AGIMO inquiry and twigged that the same 21st century tools could be installed in a couple hours for this conference (a server, an OS, a wireless LAN, MySQL, Apache, a "Google mini", then give all participants the URL on the internal LAN and tell them to create their own wiki accounts). It’d take less time than planning the seating arrangements!
If a wiki had been available, then others qualified but unable to attend could have participated over a VPN, or many who did attend might have been able to contribute to the ideas without their transport contributing so much to greenhouse emissions!
If a wiki wasn’t used, making any notes actually useful will take loads of effort that could have been largely avoided.
If a wiki of the conference and associated papers isn’t produced to the public within the next week, under a “gov.au” domain, then perhaps there should have been a preliminary conference on how this gabfest should have been organized.
Aaah, but we all know the saying about hindsight and 20/20….
- The initial report (2008-04-20) from the gabfest as PDF (Microsoft Word format also available here). NO SIMPLE HTML? – I guess network bandwidth and people needing braille browsers don’t matter!. None of the embedded images were actually informative, but merely decorative! Read it, only a handful of small (the disagreements sections) might have required observing the actual conference ("some people want GMOs/clean coal, others hate those ideas"), the rest was easily predictable. (The 79 different revisions – probably opened and saved 79 times – check the document properties of the MSWord version – makes me suspicious). And no, no wiki xml export!