Per the Slashdot story, it appears that the LA Times has launched a Wikitorial. This appears to be a new term for an editorial that is available for edit via Wiki software.
For those who have never heard of a Wiki, it is a piece of software that allows viewers of a website to edit its content. This type of content management system has been made popular by Wikipedia which is a user-editable online encyclopedia. The articles are initially entered into the system as shells and then users are responsible for adding more content. Additionally, the users are responsible for policing themselves as to the accuracy of the articles. For an encyclopedia, where the "facts are the facts", it seems to work well.
However, will this work for articles that are written specifically to stir emotion, as editorials are? Many respondents in the forums at Slashdot seem to think that this will fail. Whether this particular implementation fails or not, I think this creates an interesting opportunity.
Traditionally politicians/leaders have gauged the constituent's opinions about matters through polling. These poll questions are typically answered by those selected from a random sample and are yes/no in nature. This gives our leaders a binary reaction to their policies or our opinions. However, each person has a slightly different take on that yes/no response. So, do Wikis provide the public a way to collaborate and form a document that represents the many subtle intricacies of their opinion on a matter? With a base position statement posted to a website, constituents could interact in that web space by editing the document until people are satisfied that it represents their opinion. This would give the politicians a great way to take the pulse of the people. In other words, it may be like 500,000 people signing a petition supporting a particular statement. Except, the statement they were supporting would include their own opinions and users/signers would feel a vested interest in the document knowing that they have personally contributed to the final product.
Obviously, social laws would have to be strictly "enforced". Ie, people with stricly opposing views may spend their days and nights editing each other's edits. Maybe in this case, there could be a way to have multiple versions of the same sentence to make both happy? Or, these two battling minds could "fork" the document to create two new documents that cater to their opinion? I consider this second option to be less than ideal since too many "forks" in the document would not give the politicians that coherent view of what their constituents believe.
These are just a few of my thoughts. Does anyone else have an opinion? I really think that this could revolutionize the way politicians/leaders discover the true, detailed, subtle and sometimes contradictory opinion of their constituents.