Sunday, August 16, 2009

General Wiki

Given the importance of field manuals as an arbiter of army doctrine, there has been a remarkable development in how this official discourse may be generated. During the Bush administration the "capstone doctrine" represented by more than 500 different guides included controversial new provisions about interrogation or counterterrorism. "Care to Write Army Doctrine? With ID, Log On" in the New York Times describes a new plan to use wiki technology to

In July, in a sharp break from tradition, the Army began encouraging its personnel — from the privates to the generals — to go online and collaboratively rewrite seven of the field manuals that give instructions on all aspects of Army life.

Unlike the institutional authorship that a traditional field manual presents, the system will allow no anonymous edits, so the individuals who contribute content will have public identities.

Close reading of the article shows that it is only a test program and that very little editing has taken place in the six week's since the program's launch. In light of army personnel's anxieties about potentially displeasing superiors, it is not surprising that soldiers have been reluctant to try to rewrite the rules.

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