Julie with a B

Monday, June 20, 2005
Wiki - editorial on Los Angeles Times
The Los Angeles Times tried an interactive editorial using the "Wiki" software. It was a game experiment that went astray. They may be up for another try:
"As long as we can hit a high standard and have no risk of vandalism, then it is worth having a try at it again," said Rob Barrett, general manager of Los Angeles Times Interactive.

The feature introduced by the Los Angeles Times editorial page last week relied on the same "open source" software used by other "wikis" on the Internet. The technology allows multiple users to write and rewrite a single web page. The form's communal spirit has made the online encyclopedia "Wikipedia" tremendously popular and spawned imitators.

Editors said they believed the Times was the first major U.S. newspaper to invite readers "to wiki" on its Web site. An essay introducing the feature Friday acknowledged that some believed the experiment could prove an embarrassment.

Nearly 1,000 users registered to participate in the rewriting of Friday's lead editorial. Called "War and Consequences," the piece argued for the U.S. to set goals for training Iraqis to replace U.S. troops in Iraq and for the firing of Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld if those goals were not met.

Although marred by some profanity by contributors, the experiment got off to a fairly high-minded start, said Michael Newman, deputy editor of the editorial page, who proposed the wikitorial idea.

Voluntarily overseeing part of the discussion was Wikipedia founder Jim Wales, who soon encouraged "forking" the editorial into two pieces -- one taking a pointed anti-war stance and the other arguing for the ongoing U.S presence in Iraq.

Seems like another slant on the blog experience. It would be interesting to watch an editorial morph as more writers added their thoughts.


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