An Internal Wiki That’s Not Classified
By NOAM COHEN Published: August 4, 2008
IN the past, said Stacie R. Hankins, a special assistant at the United States Embassy in Rome, when the ambassador prepared to meet an Italian political figure, the staff would e-mail a memo about the meeting and attach biographies of those who would be attending to be printed out.
Today, she said, they still produce the memo, but “now they attach a link to the Diplopedia article” — Diplopedia being a wiki, open to the contributions of all who work in the State Department. The ambassador, Ronald P. Spogli, frequently reads the biographies on his BlackBerry on the way to the meeting.
The advantages are obvious, in efficiency and in saving paper, but it has required a leap of faith, too. For, theoretically at least, anyone at the State Department could have edited the biographies Mr. Spogli was reading — unlike traditional resources.
In addition to reference material like the 200 biographies of Italian political and business leaders, the more than 4,400 Diplopedia articles reflect the range of the staff’s concerns — among popular articles are high-minded titles like “Foreign Affairs Professional Reading List” and mundane ones like “Building Pass.”
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