Tag Archives: Society and Culture

Use of wikis for political participation > Three initiatives in Spain – Enric Senable Hidalgo [Wikimania 2008 notes]

Those...Image by fataetoile /Cinzia via Flickr

What is political participation:


  • Collaborate for a common constructive objective
  • Practice and defend freedom of speech
  • Freely meet and engage with people and causes
  • Discuss in order to obtain census
  • Engage in non-economic initiatives
  • Consume with responsibility
  • Watch the watchers
  • [and much more..]


Voting from time to time is also a form of political participation.


What’s the political participation with involvement of ICT?



  • New ways/tools of interaction
  • New public spheres for discussion
  • New and easy platforms for publishing


This can lead to



  • Identity empowerment (Castells)
  • More critical and self-reflective culture (Benkler)
  • Networked individualism (Wellman)
  • Smart mobs (Rheingold)


Example: “pasalo!” (pass it on)


As a response of 11th of March 2004 bombing in Spain, there were big demonstrations. Vast majority of people were summoned through a viral SMS and/or word of mouth.




  • Official web pages
  • Online administration
  • Online petitions
  • Electronic votes
  • Referendums/polls


Civils/grassroot organisations:


  • News
  • Forums
  • Mailing lists
  • Chats
  • Chain emails
  • SMS
  • Blogs
  • Videos
  • Social networks
  • 3D worlds
  • Wikis


Interesting problem of electronic voting: it requires electricity. This can be a real problems in some parts of the country.



Coordination: Vivienda digna (Street demonstrations for a decent house)


Origins started in an email chain message. Calling for a sit-in demonstration, positive demonstrations. Wiki of a famous blogger hosted the content and it was increased and more detailed crosspostings.

There was organical growth of related issues:

Open lists (organizing other places, blogs, press, logos, etc.)

Collaborative creation of content (manifestos, SMS messages, safety measures, legal issues)

It was a successful use of wiki and impact on public propaganda. But it failed to change the political decisions.


Memory: Lo prometido es deuda (A promise is a promise)

Similar to Wikiquote, but the objective is exclusive to find and archive campaign promises.

It got coverage in all major online Spanish newspapers.

It was a successful use of a wiki. It had impact on public opinion. Yet it did not impact political agenda.


Modify: Wikiconstitucion (Altering a common text)

Objective was to let anyone alter the original constitutional text, even for vandalism.

First two months: daily changes to the more controversial issues (crown of Spain, Spanish military forces, official languages, autonomous regions)

Progressive inactivity and finally closed due to massive spam.

It was partly successful use of Wiki, but it didn’t have impact in public opinion or a political agenda.

Zemanta Pixie

Lessig’s new CC and Slovenia

Lawrence Lessig, founding father of Creative Commons, announced his new initiative – change-congress.org. It’s an idea to promote basic reform of United States Congress and fundamental principles that in reality steer it – corporate money. The campaign is using basic technological tools like Google Maps mash-up, together with Wiki’s and pledges to start building public awareness and help keeping track of who said what and how they kept with their promises.

This is an idea that I’m  deeply excited about. Even though hanging US congress does not affect me, I love it for the meme it brings to the world. As with Creative Commons that started as US initiative and then with time ported to most of the World countries, it brings the hope, as collateral damage, also to countries like Slovenia.

While I am not a lawyer or a political scientist, I like to think myself as a hacker and with that it makes me want to build similarly inspiring things in my local environment. It also allows me to take a look what other fellow hackers built and then start asking locals here, how this ideas map to our situation?

My call out to Slovenian and also Europeans (regarding the EU legislation) that are more intimate with political scene:

  • what is our equivalent regarding US PACs and lobbyists?
  • do we have “earmarks” problem?
  • what are local initiatives for more transparent parliament?
  • and how do we compare regarding the public funding of elections?

(adopted from C-C.org)

With some help of a local groups like e-demokracija.si or kiberpipa.org, we could firstly map in a wiki-like the differences and then start forming local issues. Hopefully with time people won’t think anymore that our Slovenian government is fully corrupt and bad because thee will be full transparent accountability that is not felt right now.

5 Web events in London worth visiting


One of the perks of living in such a big city as London are all the interesting events a Web developer/entrepreneur can easily visit. Even if you do not live there, it is still worth timing your visit so you can visit them.

MiniBar occurs monthly where a number of startups pitch their ideas to the visiting public, with general theme towards Web entrepreneurs. Every presenting company gets asked the hardest question: how do you make money?

Event is free, but registration is required at their homepage. 

Wiki Wednesdays are also monthly event, this time, as you might have guessed, oriented towards people who use and are passionate about Wiki’s. Even though a lot of participants are involved with Wikipedia, there is also a lot of buzz around usage of wikis in corporations and in other projects.
Event is free, but registration is required in their wiki, that can be found through their portal.

London OpenCoffee Meetup, is a weekly event for anyone more interested in entrepreneurial side of Online and Web business. There are all kinds of visitors there, from VC’s to developers or just people who are interested in breaking into this field or looking for someone to help them. Drinking coffee on top of Waterstones, Londons biggest book store and chatting with like minded people is also a great way to start a Thursday morning.
Event is free, with no registration required. They also have a homepage and a general page of OpenCoffee Club movement.

Dorkbot London is a monthly meeting of people who do interesting things with electricity, but more precisely electronic. It involves artists, engineers, designers and just about everyone who is passionate about all things electric.
Event is free, but sometimes registration is required, so check their dorkbot wiki.

Mashup* event is a monthly, a bit more commercially oriented event where startups once again present their creations to interested public. Since it is not free, there is a bit smaller crowd there so it might be easier to actually discuss your big idea.
Entry is 35£, with required registration at the event homepage.