Can you apply wikis to democracy?

Courtesy of Umair at, I found something called Wikiocracy, which appears to be an attempt to apply the “open-source information” principles of Wikipedia to the various laws and statutes that form our society (or in this case, U.S. society), including the Constitution. This is an idea that I find kind of intriguing, especially since we are looking at how Web 2.0 affects politics and society as part of our mesh conference on May 15th and 16th. I wrote a bit about that here.

Given the kinds of errors that have crept into Wikipedia in the past, and the varrious controversies over people editing their own entries or being blocked from editing entries, I’m sure a lot of people would argue that the idea of a Wikipedia of politics or democracy would make no sense whatsoever. And yet, democracy in its purest sense is supposed to be representative of its citizens — and not just its smart or well-informed citizens. If everyone had the chance to write the laws, what would they look like? Would the numbskulls take over, as Nick Carr has suggested?

An initial look at Wikiocracy isn’t likely to fill anyone with confidence in that respect. One of the more recent changes proposed altering the U.S. Constitution to create a 58th Amendment, being the “Establishment of a solely Taters Based Economy.” It included a section which reads “The United States shall establish the Office of Taters through which it will promote its chief and only export, Taters, better known as potatoes,” and a link to an external site which features nothing but a looping video clip of Sam Gamgee’s character from Lord of the Rings saying the word “potatoes” over and over. The voice of the people? Perhaps not. Still, an interesting experiment nevertheless.

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