GCPedia: Canada’s Wikipedia
I have to admit, I haven’t heard much about GCPedia prior to researching it as a possible topic for this column. But I have two good excuses; one, I don’t live in Canada and secondly, I don’t work for the Government of Canada. You see, GCPedia is only available and accessible to people who are within the gc.ca internal network.
With that said, I think government at all levels in all countries could take a few pointers from GCPedia.
Launched in October 2008 at the Government in Technology Conference in Ottawa, GCPedia was designed to do one thing: improve public service.
More specifically GCPedia offers an environment where public servants can:
-Learn from each other’s successes and failures
-Build on the great work of others
-Eliminate duplication of effort
-Find and publish tools and models
-Share knowledge and expertise
-Build and preserve corporate memory
-Ultimately improve the way we deliver service to each other
Like Wikipedia, GCPedia does not need a formal organization to run it. And much like GovLoop, it is a stable platform, with some rules, where communities are formed by its users and where discussion and knowledge sharing occurs.
One example, mentioned in an article in The Ottawa Citizen, is that information about climate change policies could be posted and commented on by scientists and bureaucrats from National Resources Canada (NRCan), Environment Canada and Industry Canada. This might help break down walls between government departments that have traditionally been unwilling to share information because it was too difficult to share.
Nicholas Charney, cofounder of CPSRenewal.ca and self described “Renewal Wonk” was kind enough to share his insights and thoughts on GCPedia:
“I think that gcpedia is a paradigm shift. To call it anything less
undermines its importance.
It has the potential to completely revolutionize the way we do business
internally. I say potential because before that can happen there needs
to be widespread adoption.
I, and many of my contemporaries (in mind and attitude, not age) have
taken up gcpedia and integrated it into our work. It, combined with
other social media tools, has allowed us to find each other, share
information, and avoid duplication. Each of us is better for having it.
Furthermore, it is much easier for people in the centre to see the
regional perspective and vice versa, I need not say how important that
is in a country as large and diverse as Canada.
The first article I ever wrote for my blog was entitled, “Why the
Government of Canada Needs a Wiki”. No more than a year later, was I
happily writing my very first article in it. I think this augers very
well for the future of Canada, its public servants, and most
importantly, its citizens.”
GCPedia was developed from an obscure initiative by National Resources Canada called the NRCan Wiki, after the Treasury Board discovered how well the NRCan Wiki was working.
From what I can find, there is no talk of The Government of Canada considering opening it up GCPedia to the public.
According to a blog entry on commonlookandfeel.ca (a community space for Government of Canada Web Projects), approximately two months after the launch, they already had 1,432 registered users, 5,250 total pages, and 824 files have been uploaded. Updated stats were difficult to come by… if you have updated stats, please post them below.
Are you on the inside? Do you have access to GCPedia? Let us know your thoughts and experiences, please comment below.
Checkout this slideshare presentation about social networking in government with some screen shots from GCPedia.
You may also want to follow @thomkearney who is one of the guys in charge of making GCPedia happen.
A great piece and my apologies for not providing input prior to posting.
That being said, I love that comments are always welcome.
I am a GCPedia user who may be slowly becoming a champion for its intended purpose. I champion anything that will breed collaboration, networking and efficiency. GCPedia is an excellent start and agree with Nick’s point that, when combined with other SM tools, can be a true gem.
Like any pilots or projects in their infancy, issues become apparent, some of which I’ll share in the event they help other members who may be looking to go down this road.
Communication, communication, communication. Says it all I hope. Basic communication strategies highlight things that should be taken into account when launching projects which likely aren’t for everyone.
Tip: get the web strategists on it first and early as they’ll naturally want to use it. Leverage other inter-departmental working groups who should be on it. Tools are successful if you get the right users using them.
Silos – One challenge the Gov’t of Canada will have is trying to eliminate (and yes, they should) individual departmental wikis. The push is on in my department to use our wiki while the majority of files we work on require other governmental input.
Culture – it’s nice to share people! There is an odd sense of competition or fear within departments that we shouldn’t let others know what we’re doing in case they do it better. To that I say, let’s hope!!!
I long for systematic roll-out of a suite of products that will enable collaboration and networking on all fronts. I’ve been a huge fan of govloop and can only hope I can connect with and leverage the expertise of people in my own government as easily and enjoyably as I have with those in yours.
Great post. One note I’d like to add is that GCpedia is built on open source tools which is very interesting. Also I think part of the value the site will only be developed as it is being used and members come up with interesting uses. Oh Canada…..
As I tweeted, current stats: “There are 5,908 registered users. We are working on 2,938 articles in English and French.”
Thanks for pointing out this resource. Our MuniGov group just launched a similar project here, and it would be helpful to learn from their insights. I think we have some members working in Canadian Govt. so maybe they can access GCpedia and help guide us in the development of ours.
One of the great promises of government online was that it would bring the long anticipated institutional reform to government. e-Government really didn’t deliver on that promise. Now proponets are pointing to Web 2.0 (Government 2.0) and the power of its collaborative/communicative benefits to finally bring reform. I would like to hear your thoughts about whether GCPedia is showing any promise of institutional reform, will the silo’s and culture again prevail, or are we now on our way to a more agile government? (Chris – Toronto)
A Government Web 2.0 and Social Media Conference was held in Ottawa this week, and Mr. Jeff Braybrook, Deputy Chief Technology Officer for Canada Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat whom is heading up the GCpedia initiative gave a seminar titled “Removing IT Barriers: Lessons Leaned from Develop GCPEDIA”. I didn’t get a chance to attend, but would like to hear from those that did.
Thank you all for your great feedback!
Chris, that would explain why I didn’t hear back from Mr. Braybrook this week.
Richard, thank you for the current stats!
Martha, no problem at all… thank you for your excellent insight!
Sorry Greg, for not responding sooner. But I see that some of the real heros of GCpedia have already shared their insights in this thread. Thanks all for helping to make a cool new workplace come to life.
As a GCPedia user, I believe that Jeff and the treasury board team have really done a great job in breaking away from the traditional model of “Thou shall use this tool and comply” instead they have consistently made the effort to let the democratic process take root and have a base of users act as champions within their organization and across all of Govt of Canada.
I do think the next steps will be to start working more closely with the existing departmental IT teams to better show the value of GCpedia and how it is complimentary to the existing IT enterprise solutions and technologies and that it is not a threat from the crazy “open source guys”
My hat goes off to the usual suspects who continually make GCpedia better everyday!
Hi Greg and everyone else. Thanks for the great post and comments.
Jeff is right, the real heros are the folks that are using gcpedia to collaborate, to share and to figure out how to do things better. As leaders it is our role to get the tools in place, set as few rules as possible and get out of the way. Of course we still have to pay for it, so its not quite true to say that it does not need a formal organization to run it. We do have an organization, its just really small and focused on enabling people to do their jobs better.
There is a huge culture challenge for some to work transparently and a natural tendency to stay in our comfort zones, change is never easy. Hats off to those individuals who are demonstrating leadership, (whatever your level), it is your efforts that will fulfill the promise of gcpedia. You are the champions in every sense of the word.
If anyone has specific questions about the experience Jeff or I will be happy to try and answer them, Also if anyone has any great ideas on how to sustainably fund and govern a horizontal beast like GCPEDIA in a vertical world I would love to hear them.
You might like to talk with Steve Dale in the UK
The Communities of Practice model that has been running for 3 or 4 years has about 20,000 members I believe, and is open to all. Steve has been the project manager
Other UK government pieces of note
Hack the government day and the re-wired state
Consultation documents and wordpress
Ross who blogs above works at the Central Office of Information. See the Commentariat stuff.
Are any of the readers coming to Scotland for the Homecoming 2009 ? If so, would be good to meet to talk about web2
Can anyone put me in touch with the person or team behind the development of GCPedia? I’m starting a similar project for local government in the UK, It’s got a working title of ‘the Knowledge Hub’, and I’ve been looking at the Wikipedia model as a potential foundation for the technology and business processes. I’d love to learn from the experience of the people that have developed GCPedia.
Thanks in advance for any pointers on who to contact.
Hi Stephen, you will want to contact Thom Kearny here: https://www.govloop.com/profile/Thom
He is one of the creators of GCPedia.