Congresspedia/SourceWatch gets wiki-mania

I’m currently at the Citizen Journalism "unconference" at the Wikimania 2006 conference in Boston with a joint team from the Sunlight Foundation and the Center for Media and Democracy. Wikimania is the gathering of the international horde of volunteers, citizen researchers and programmers behind Wikipedia and the many wikis it has inspired, including SourceWatch/Congresspedia. The "unconference" is being put on by our friend Dan Gillmor and his new Center for Citizen Media.

There’s a distinct feeling in the air here that wikis have come into their own as an indispensable piece of the human body of knowledge. The English language Wikipedia passed the one million article mark in March, more than 200 Wikipedias in other languages have been started and a December review by Nature of the accuracy of Wikipedia vs. Encyclopedia Britannica found that they were roughly comparable in accuracy.

There are a number of other exciting wiki projects in the works, including Wikiversity (an online learning community), Wiktionary (an open content dictionary) and WiktionaryZ (a mult-lingual online dictionary). But one of the most exciting wiki developments for us at Congresspedia is Wikiwyg, a wiki implementation of WYSISYG, or What-You-See-Is-What-You-Get. Essentially this means that instead of having to learn how to write in wiki code (which really is simple for basic writing—here's where to get started if you haven't already), you'll be able to simply click on the screen and edit the text of an article in real time and without having to look at the underlying code. We believe this will remove one of the last significant barriers preventing citizens from becoming citizen journalists on wikis.

We're also meeting a lot of really fascinating people conducting very innovative projects in citizen journalism, online communities, collaborative research and digitizing ("freeing") information. In the coming months keep an eye out for new developments on our wiki, SourceWatch/Congresspedia, that harness these ideas and technologies to make it both easier to use and richer in content and features.