I discovered WikiChains today, a rather intriguing and potentially amazing website.
The project is put together by Dr Mark Graham from Oxford University’s Internet Institute and would appear to be a not-fpr-profit enterprise (calling on volunteers to help create content) – although this isn’t stated explicitly.
WikiChains aims to use crowd-sourced data to shine a light on the production chain of products we use in our everyday lives by tracing and highlighting the origins of these products and exposing the ‘reality’ of its journey from raw material to home.
In it’s own words, the site:
“encourage ethical consumption and transparency in commodity chains. … The core activities of WikiChains will involve the setting-up and maintenance of a wiki website. This website will encourage Internet users from around the world to upload text, images, sounds, and videos of any node on any commodity chain. … The hope is that ultimately a large enough body of data will be assembled to allow consumers to find out information about the chains of all mass produced commodities.”
But I can’t help wondering why – given the intellectual prowess of its founders – they persist in thinking that the site will somehow slowly grow itself.
True, some outreach might help to increase the number of entries on the site but I can’t help thinking: this should be a WikiMedia Fundation project.
Our strategic advice for clients in the social space is always don’t try to build a new community. Instead, see what your networks are already doing, join in and empower them to improve their effectiveness in achieving shared outcomes.
Leveraging the WikiMedia and Wikipedia community seems a no brainer given the sheer volume of information that already exists (some of which is no doubt going to replicated by WikiChains) and the collective action already undertaken by the Wikipedia contributors to further knowledge creation.
It’ll be interesting to watch WikiChains develop (the have their organisational development plan on the site) and see in which direction the project grows.