A lot of my recent reading and thinking has focused on how social software — community-building online tools like blogging, wikis and social networking — effect small-p political change by allowing groups to self-organize more easily and powerfully. Today, Wired has a story about how a wiki is being used to do big-P Politics:
A group of volunteers has begun using collaborative wiki software to expedite the process of perusing thousands of pages of complex documents related to detainees held by the U.S. government at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba.
The group, which has coalesced through the influential liberal blog, Daily Kos, has taken it upon itself to vet documents about Gitmo detainees the American Civil Liberties Union received as a result of a 2003 Freedom of Information Act request. The organization has been slow to review the documents itself due to a lack of manpower.
Given that the ACLU has recently hired Jed Miller — one of the pioneers of online civic engagement — as its Director of Internet Programs, it will be interesting to see whether the ACLU finds a way to harness this grassroots venture.