On July 12 to 13, 2012, the Office of eDiplomacy within the State Department's Bureau of Information Resource Management convened its eighth Tech@State conference, Tech@State:Wiki.Gov. The event focused on public sector use of wiki technology and took place parallel to the Wikimedia Foundation's Wikimania 2012 Conference.
As Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said in a letter that was read at the start of the conferences, "Wikimania 2012 highlights the intersection of government and community goals…. The U.S. Department of State supports these endeavors in technology, knowledge sharing, and community building as they are important pillars of our 21st Century Statecraft agenda."
The Tech@State Wiki.Gov program continued with former federal Deputy Chief Technology Officer Beth Noveck, who offered a vision for wider participation in the process of public policy. In her writings, Noveck considers a model of collaborative government not unlike the means by which Wikipedia, the free online encyclopedia, produces its content. What then followed were presentations on how governments and international organizations are using wikis, including the State Department's very own Diplopedia.
While the State Department is proud of its Diplopedia, an internally produced wiki of nearly 15,000 articles, the growth of Wikipedia is truly staggering. During Wikimania 2012, Jimmy Wales, founder of Wikipedia, announced that English Wikipedia had exceeded four million articles.
Conference participants also discussed projects by the U.S. Marine Corps, the United Nations Development Program, and the Canadian government, whose wiki impressively stretches across all of the country's federal agencies and reaches the overwhelming majority of its civil servants. The key theme of the conference discussions was this: the power of wiki technologies to open up information resources to government agencies and enhance internal collaboration.
While the concurrently-held Tech@State conference was unique to this year's Wikimania, Office of eDiplomacy staffers first presented at the second Wikimania conference in 2006. Since then, eDiplomacy staffers have participated in several additional Wikimania conferences, including in Haifa, Israel, Alexandria, Egypt, and Gdansk, Poland. A fact that reminds us of something else Secretary Clinton said in her letter to the two conferences, "The world is more connected than ever before, but there is still much work to be done to fully capitalize on the potential of this interconnection." The Secretary's statement is one that inspires our efforts each day.
Tell us what you think. What new efforts can be done to bring technology and knowledge to citizens around the world?