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» Saturday, June 25, 2005

Gitmo docs, ACLU, KOS, Wiki...

mobilizing the masses...
    As has ben stated before, organizing liberals is kinda like herding cats.   Thanks to the motivating force created by the neocons, that may be slowly changing.   DailyKOS community and dKOSopedia are taking it to another level.   It's too bad that it has taken the killing of innocents, the torture of prisoners and the sacrifice of our young people in the military, to bring it about.   - fc Politics   ::   Wiki Reviews Guantanamo Docs

A group of volunteers has begun using collaborative wiki software to expedite the process of perusing thousands of pages of complex documents related to detainees held by the U.S. government at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba.

The group, which has coalesced through the influential liberal blog, Daily Kos, has taken it upon itself to vet documents about Gitmo detainees the American Civil Liberties Union received as a result of a 2003 Freedom of Information Act request. The organization has been slow to review the documents itself due to a lack of manpower.

The tentative plan, Phillies explained, is to publicly post the project's results --including key findings that are critical of the government's actions at Gitmo, as well as some that are not. Project participants will also try to place stories in the mainstream media about cases of what the volunteers feel are prisoner abuse.

Of course, this isn't the first time volunteer labor has been used to solve a big problem. During World War II, it took a large number of volunteer analysts to break Germany’s super-secret Enigma cipher machines. And more recently, collaborative efforts were used to help IBM take on SCO -- a company that has become notorious for aggressively asserting its legal claim to the Unix operating system in suits against IBM and other companies that use Linux.

But to Clay Shirky, an adjunct professor in NYU's Interactive Telecommunications Program, the initiative to tackle the ACLU documents is groundbreaking.

They're "changing the way leverage is applied," Shirky said. "The historical dilemma of democracies is that it's very hard to get large groups organized. So, paradoxically, the more widely distributed an opinion is, the harder it is to turn its adherents into an interest group."

Befitting a project that was born on a technologically innovative website, Hu and Phillies and their team are employing wikis -- web pages that can be edited by anyone -- to process the results of their document reviews. The wiki displays each document's review status, and ensures that participants are on the same page, can see each others' progress and can be certain work is not unintentionally duplicated.

Shirky thinks Hu and Phillies have created a model to which others should pay attention.

"They are lowering the costs to get large groups coordinated," he said. And by "providing a template and instructions for a good post, they are not just undertaking this effort, but also providing a master template for other groups who want to do similar things."

dkosopedia : List of Documents

dkos project mainpage

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