Christen McCluney writes about the two-year old Techipedia, a wiki managed by the Defense Technical Information Center (DTIC) and used by more than 11,000 people in the Department of Defense, related government agencies, and defense contractors. In a January 28th interview, R. Paul Ryan, Administrator of DTIC, discussed current uses of the tool, how its impact is measured in terms of ideas and contracts, balancing security and the efficient flow of information, and the community’s efforts at self-regulation, or “gardening.”
“Somebody has a topic out there that is of interest to them,” he said. They write up a short blurb [or] a description of that, and then the people come in and the discussion grows from there.” Hot topics include sensors, traumatic brain injury, biometrics, advanced materials and energy reduction strategies. “You name the subject and it’s eligible to become part of Techipedia,” Ryan said.
Out of some 100 ideas submitted in the past year, four have resulted in awarded contracts, with two more in the works.
One challenge is to maintain the free flow of information while enforcing proper security. Protection is provided by parsing data into several levels based on sensitivities and also by vetting users before granting access.
So far, Ryan has been pleased with the “gardening” done by users – that’s wiki talk, for the self-regulating style of Web communities. In this case, he says, users are doing a good job of cultivating reliable information.