Fact: Last night the U.S. Joint Forces Command (JFCOM) announced it has “moved its C2Pedia Registry to the unclassified network enabling more potential users to access and edit the site, hoping it will ultimately improve the quality of data.” C2Pedia is a MediaWiki-driven online knowledge base of information about Command and Control (C2), with specific information about more than 200 C2 systems used across the Department of Defense and the armed services.
Analysis: The profusion of wikis in official government circles is an interesting expression of the value of social media for enterprise knowledge management, but for the most part inside agency or network firewalls, denying access to the public at large and therefore incorporating only the wisdom of “the inside crowd.” The State Department’s Diplopedia sits on their intranet (ironically called “OpenNet”), as the New York Times pointed out in a story a few weeks ago (“An Internal Wiki that’s Not Classified“), implying a distinction (without a difference to my mind) between Diplopedia and the IC’s Intellipedia, which has an unclassified version as well – but it also sits on a firewalled network!
Jimmy Wales, founder of Wikipedia, testified to Congress recently about the value of wikis and social media within enterprises, and pointed out the distinction between “within-the-agency” verticalized information sharing, a la Diplopedia, and horizontal sharing across organizations as exemplified by the IC’s Intellipedia, which as I mentioned has a firewalled unclassified version as well as its classified-network versions, all accessible from any of the intelligence community’s sixteen agencies and beyond.
The JFCOM move opens the C2Pedia walled garden, to a level of horizontal openness dwarfing [meant to say] rivaling Intellipedia. [ed.: That correction suggested by John Hale of IC Enterprise Services, which runs Intellipedia.]
Now anyone with a DoD Common Access Card can access and edit C2Pedia — and that’s some 3.5 million active-duty personnel, bureaucrats, and contractors, according to DoD.
Tangential Analysis: History and Wikis
I go down to JFCOM quite often, made easier now that I’m living just upriver. And I have a reason for a side-trip next time. My wife’s been doing her family’s genealogical research, and recently traced her mother’s line back to (and beyond) Christopher Newport, the earliest of Virginians, noted pirate, responsible for the first democratic election on the American continent, and purveyor of baby crocodiles to King James I.
His longest voyage was his last, as he died in Indonesia. But his most famous was in command of the Susan Constant (and accompanying ships Godspeed and Discovery) in 1606-07, from London to the Chesapeake Bay, where he and his crew founded the Jamestown colony. So I’d like to visit the replica of the Susan Constant at its dock in the James River on my next visit down that way.
The Wikipedia article about the Susan Constant has basic information on the ship, but I was doing some other searching for its history and came upon a ship-modelers’ website (“Ships from the Age of Sail Database“) that has data on lots of 16th and 17th century ships. Directly above the Susan Constant listing, I noticed the following:
Sovereign of the Seas: HMS Sovereign of the Seas; First Rate; Length:38.7 m (keel); Beam: 14.2 m; 1,141 tons; Armament: 106 guns; 20 cannon drakes, 4 demi-cannon drakes and 4 demi-cannon on the lower gun deck; 24 culverin drakes, 6 culverins and 4 demi-cannon on the middle gun deck; 38 demi-culverin drakes, 4 demi-culverins and 2 culverin drakes on the upper gun deck; Woolwich Dockyard, England; 1637. The Royal Navy’s most lavish ornamented and expensive ship of the day. Slow and cumbersome, she nevertheless saw action during all three Anglo-Dutch wars. In 1703 she was destroyed by a candle mishap at Chatham.” [Emphasis added.]
Now, that’s from a site for ship-lovers, and presumably they know their facts. Meanwhile the Wikipedia page on “HMS Sovereign of the Seas” has more information but is less conclusive, saying she burned “having been set on fire either by accident, negligence or design.” Unfortunately there’s no link to any more specific information on the ignominious end to what was “the most extravagantly decorated warship in the Royal Navy, completely adorned from stern to bow with gilded carvings against a black background.” The Wikipedia “discussion” and “history” pages hold no clue to any controversy or further development of the “candle-mishap” story, and I don’t have the time or inclination to delve into the issue further.
Who’s right? Was the Royal Navy’s “most expensive ship” brought down by a simple candle mishap?
That’s where the wisdom of the crowd could take over… I can’t edit a question into the ship-modelers’ site, because it is static – not a wiki. However one could always stir the pot by editing in the candle angle to the Wikipedia page, citing the other website as a source. That might draw out someone with more definitive historical evidence for what happened to this once-mighty military weapons system, its C2 power destroyed by a simple “candle mishap.”
Update: Shortly after posting this blog, a brilliant first comment was posted, and then the second comment below was posted, signifying success in my invitation to “the crowd” to update the Wikipedia entry for HMS Sovereign of the Seas. If you don’t know Ed Vielmetti, he’s a Usenet pioneer, co-creator of alt.zines, and was famously cited by Tim Berners-Lee in one of the very first examples of “surfing the web” back in 1992. And, he’s obviously interested in good wiki gardening. I recommend Ed’s blog “Vacuum” – his entrancing “Kibo approach to Twitter Zero” post is thought-provoking in the extreme, winding up with a tellingly appropriate passage from the greatest book of the 20th Century.
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