by Pam Greenberg
Wikis are slowly finding a place in government and in state legislatures. Wikis allow users to add and edit content on a web page, taking advantage of the idea that a collective wisdom will create a better result. Utah Representative Steve Urquhart's Politicopia, which we highlighted in 2007, was the first state legislative policy wiki. It created a place for citizens and legislators to discuss a number of policy issues facing the Utah Legislature. But wikis are also being used within and across government agencies. For example, Intellipedia is the U.S. intelligence community's wiki. California has a best practices wiki, where state employees can submit best practices in information technology, customer service, human resources and other areas.
Now, legislative technology staff in Idaho have developed Legipedia, a wiki that initially replicated a printed manual that is given to legislative attachés (session-only legislative staff) each year. The manual has instructions for new attachés about how to use the various computer applications within the legislature. The goals for the wiki were to reduce printing and distribution costs, expand the amount of information available to users, provide a faster and easier way to find information, and to "put the documentation process in the hands of the people actually doing the work so they can update the instructions to reflect the best way to handle tasks." The project was highlighted in a National Association of Legislative Information Technology newsletter article in Winter 2008, with a follow-up article in Summer 2008.