Wikipedia footsoldiers

7 March 2005

If you ever click on links in openDemocracy articles, you're bound to have stumbled on the Wikipedia website. It's like an online encyclopedia anyone can edit - even you - and we link to it a lot. In the March issue of Wired Magazine, Daniel H. Pink has written a great article with interviews with some of the people who write and update wikipedia entries most obsessively by the hundreds. You'll be surprised to hear who they are.

Towards the end of the (very long) article, it's questioned whether Wikipedia is a reliable source. Compared to what? It's honestly imperfect, in a way that encourages you to think for yourself. See something you don't like? Fix it. I was impressed to learn that wikipedia footsoldiers set up watches on more controversial subjects, and can restore entries within minutes when/if there is wiki-vandalism.

Stop the secrecy: Publish the NHS COVID data deals

To: Matt Hancock, Secretary of State for Health and Social Care

We’re calling on you to immediately release details of the secret NHS data deals struck with private companies, to deliver the NHS COVID-19 datastore.

We, the public, deserve to know exactly how our personal information has been traded in this ‘unprecedented’ deal with US tech giants like Google, and firms linked to Donald Trump (Palantir) and Vote Leave (Faculty AI).

The COVID-19 datastore will hold private, personal information about every single one of us who relies on the NHS. We don’t want our personal data falling into the wrong hands.

And we don’t want private companies – many with poor reputations for protecting privacy – using it for their own commercial purposes, or to undermine the NHS.

The datastore could be an important tool in tackling the pandemic. But for it to be a success, the public has to be able to trust it.

Today, we urgently call on you to publish all the data-sharing agreements, data-impact assessments, and details of how the private companies stand to profit from their involvement.

The NHS is a precious public institution. Any involvement from private companies should be open to public scrutiny and debate. We need more transparency during this pandemic – not less.

By adding my name to this campaign, I authorise openDemocracy and Foxglove to keep me updated about their important work.

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