GCPEDIA: Sill the most transformative technology at our fingertips

Friday, October 7, 2016
by Nick Charney RSS / cpsrenewalFacebook / cpsrenewalLinkedIn / Nick Charneytwitter / nickcharneygovloop / nickcharneyGoogle+ / nickcharney

I've been an advocate for GCPEDIA since forever.

I was an early adopter of turned special advisor on the project as a whole.

When I first published Scheming Virtuously: A Handbook for Public Servants I stood up a wiki version and invited other public servants to contribute to it (See: False Assumptions About Working Openly, circa 2009). I later revisted the issue by taking on many of the common misconceptions associated with working in an open environment (See: Debunking the Myths of Working Openly, circa 2012)

I used it to create a(n official) National Inventory for Bridgeable Students (again 2009) which rose in quickly in popularity but never got picked up by the powers that be (See: Measuring the Value of Social Media in Government).

I've argued that GCPEDIA is a modern day David in a world full of Goliaths -- lightweight, low barrier to entry, open source, doesn't play by the established rules -- and that we ought to embrace it based on those strengths (See: GCPEDIA: A David Among Goliaths and Embrace GCPEDIA as a Technological David).

My recent re-entry into the public service has me working on a project that simply could not exist without GCPEDIA (See: Sharing my Actual Work... My Actual Work), so it doesn't come as a surprise that the technology -- old by most standards -- is still killing it in terms of untapped potential and value.

GCPEDIA is a lot of things -- a enterprise wide (Government of Canada) collaborative platform with low barriers to entry, a platform that cuts across silos, hierarchy, geography, group and level -- but it is also a fully functional web development platform at each and every one of our fingertips. With the right resources you can do this with GCPEDIA (well done Global Affairs Canada, well done).

In short, GCPEDIA is still the most transformative (and underused!) technology at our fingertips.

PS - if you've got some web development skills/resources that you want to bring to bear (pro-bono) on my team's project, drop me a line, we sure could use them.

Kent AitkenRSS / cpsrenewalFacebook / cpsrenewalLinkedIn / Kent Aitkentwitter / kentdaitkengovloop / KentAitken

A while back Nick and I talked about bouncing back and forth with posts, adding to or critiquing ideas. We accidentally did exactly that over email for this one, so I’m hijacking his post and adding some thoughts.

The caveat that I’d add is that the GAC example is more so taking advantage of the server space than the GCpedia platform itself. They stripped away a lot of the infrastructure that makes GCpedia tick for most people.

That said, it’s a web dev platform available to a couple hundred thousand people for both creation and viewing. And Nick’s right that it’s potentially powerful, but I think the big question is the unique value of a behind-the-firewall platform, rather than the GCpedia we know and love, or the options available on the internet. (And there’s always the intranet, but that’s strictly governed rather than open and self-organized.)

And three possibilities - possibilities, not answers - come to mind.

  1. It could mean that we can likely integrate GCpedia content and work into other systems and workflows, including as a pipeline to the internet. Right now GCpedia is manual entry, manual retrieval
  2. It could mean that we can purposefully design interactions between public servants rather than work with what’s available (e.g., think back to the GC-wide discussions on Blueprint 2020; a self-organized, customizable intranet could open options for how campaigns like that work)
  3. It could mean that we have a limited testing ground for prototypes of future external platforms and websites

But for each of these, there's still some unique conditions that have to be met: 1) situations when public servants can do web dev, but don’t have access to dev servers; and 2) situations when the content and infrastructure should be limited to the GC only.