UPDATE: How to follow Pete Forsyth and Wiki Strategies

Posted in WikiWay on June 2, 2014 by Pete Forsyth

The blog you’re looking at was active in 2008 and 2009. If you feel like digging through the archives, please enjoy!

But if you’re looking for blog creator Pete Forsyth’s current blogging, which generally focuses on Wikipedia and the collaborative Internet, you might be better off looking at the Wiki Strategies blog.

Pete Forsyth

Pete Forsyth

Wiki Strategies

Wiki Strategies


June 2011 update

Posted in WikiWay on June 7, 2011 by Pete Forsyth

I haven’t blogged here in a long time — but I’ve been busy! Here are a few of the things I’ve been working on:

Please feel free to track me down at one of these sites!

Health care poll results

Posted in WikiWay on September 14, 2009 by Pete Forsyth

From August 12–13. Hmmmmm….

Picture 19

Should the government tweet?

Posted in WikiWay with tags , , , , on June 1, 2009 by Pete Forsyth

Ted Wheeler is getting some heat for his desire to have a modern media expert on staff at the County, working with tools like Twitter and Facebook. He’s doing a pretty good job of justifying his position, but it’s pretty ridiculous that he should even have to do that. Let me explain why this whole discussion strikes me as being completely ludicrous.

Last week, a bill I’d been working on (unpaid) was before a legislative committee in Salem. I had expected it to be heard on Tuesday, but at about noon on the previous Friday, I learned that it was going to be up at about 3pm that day.

So I canceled appointments with clients, and arranged to get from Portland to Salem. I then delivered my testimony, reflecting about 6 months of volunteer work facilitating a discussion among a broad group of business, policy, and government experts.

The committee chair did not listen to a word of my testimony (maybe 45 seconds); he was talking with the committee secretary about something more important.

On the whole, a massively inefficient, and somewhat humiliating, interaction. It’s fun to learn the steps to an odd 19th century ritual, but pretty frustrating to be required to do it just in order to sum up my work to a decision-maker.

I didn’t let it stop me, but many people with something to offer do. They don’t even consider the possibility of meaningful communication with their government institutions.

I, for one, applaud Ted Wheeler for daring to ask how government can become better at leveraging modern technology to better communicate with the public.

Am I suggesting that I should have been able to “tweet” my testimony? Of course not.

But here are just a few groups that have recognized that Twitter is an important dish on the modern communications menu, and have invested substantial capital or sweat into getting it right:

  • The Obama campaign
  • Innumerable news outlets
  • Innumerable retail businesses
  • Many elements of the Portland small business community
  • Any modern communications consulting business
  • etc., etc., etc.

To those of you who claim you’re “too old” or “too unhip” to get it, you’re wrong. If you think Twitter is a trend, or diminishes personal interaction (rather than enriching it), you’re wrong. In case you hadn’t noticed, we’re in the midst of a communications revolution — and many of the tools that emerge represent significant progress. 20 years ago, you were telling me that email was a toy for academics and computer geeks, and would never catch on. 5 years ago, you were saying something similar about blogs. Pardon my lack of interest, but admit it — your track record isn’t that good.

If you genuinely want to understand how Twitter or related tools can fit into an effective communication strategy for the County or any other institution, I’d be happy to sit down and have a discussion.

But, fair warning: I’ll charge you a lot of money for that discussion. That kind of consulting is in pretty high demand these days.

Breaking: LocalNewsDaily.com is no more

Posted in media with tags , , , , , on January 30, 2009 by Pete Forsyth

One of the cool benefits of editing Wikipedia on a regular basis is coming across little tidbits of unreported news.

You’re probably familiar with the concept of biased edits on the “encyclopedia anyone can edit.” The mainstream media loves to express outrage when campaign staffers, PR agencies, or enamored spouses try to “doctor” Wikipedia articles, often leading to awkward hyperbole; last year, the Oregonian’s Jeff Mapes was happy to lend his name to this sort of sloppy thinking, accusing a staffer on Steve Novick’s campaign of inappropriately editing the biography of Novick’s opponent, Jeff Merkley. (In reality, the edit in question was mostly an improvement to the article, and was reviewed by an experienced and uninvolved Wikipedia editor within about 23 minutes. So the harm alleged by the Merkley campaign was pretty much nonexistent.)

Such stories miss the point in too many ways to mention. But self-interested Wikipedia editing is, of course, a reality. And for the regular Wikipedia editor, it can provide a fascinating insight into how the campaign staffers, PR agencies, and enamored spouses of the world are thinking.

This Wikipedia edit, which wandered across my computer screen earlier today, told me something interesting about Portland media — something that has gone unreported in other media outlets. But before I can properly explain it, here’s just a little more background.

LocalNewsDaily site branding

Last May, the Portland Tribune (a former employer of mine) dropped from two weekly editions to one, and laid off a bunch of employees. A sensible response to tough times in the industry. But they were roundly criticized by other Portland publications for the spin they put on it: rather than characterizing it as the downsizing it was, the Tribune was quick to pat itself on the back for their new plan to update daily on their web site, a product they called a “daily online newspaper.”

But the punchline on the joke was that they called it “LocalNewsDaily.com” — rebranding their web site to combine the Trib and their numerous other community papers into a single web site, clearly advertising that they were producing some kind of innovative “online daily newspaper.” The name was a clear indication that they thought they had a truly innovative product — that they were somehow reinventing local news delivery by updating frequently on the web. (Apparently, they were using the domain as early as 2006, though they did not advertise the name that early.)

So, what’s the scoop today? Well, in contrast to the launch of LocalNewsDaily.com, which created quite a buzz on the local scene, the disappearance of the LocalNewsDaily.com brand name apparently escaped the notice of the local press.

The site as of January 2009

The site as of January 2009

But I spotted it, because of a tiny Wikipedia edit that caught my eye. Someone anonymous — and it’s hard to imagine it was anyone but a Trib employee — took the trouble to remove the references to LocalNewsDaily.com from the article on the Pamplin Media Group (the Trib’s parent company). And sure enough, when I punched LocalNewsDaily.com into my web browser, it redirected to a web site that’s now known as PortlandTribune.com.

Just like it used to, back in the day.

LocalNewsDaily site branding

Dating Wikipedia (as in, going steady)

Posted in Wikipedia on December 22, 2008 by Pete Forsyth

Icicle sent me this one. I think it explains pretty succinctly why I often stay away from the policy debates and other navelgazing aspects of the ‘pedia. Oh, and if that Santa Claus thing offends you? I blame Shankbone. That’s right, he’s the one who ruined Santa Claus.

(Click below to view the whole comic)

One of the finest songs of all time

Posted in WikiWay with tags , , on December 16, 2008 by Pete Forsyth

Written by Leonard Cohen, performed by John Cale.

Iron Bartender!

Posted in events with tags , , , , , on December 12, 2008 by Pete Forsyth

Tomorrow night, come down to the Crown Room in downtown Portland for the Iron Bartender!

This event, similar to the Iron Chef TV show, will benefit The Giving Tree, one of my favorite Portland non-profits. Founder Wendi Anderson and a cadre of dedicated volunteers bring art and recreational services to people in transitional housing, who are often at a loss as to how to reintegrate with society after prolonged homelessness. It’s an important niche that doesn’t get met by other non-profits, and is one of those things that makes Portland special.

Anyway, back to the event — a panel of celebrity judges, including Mayor-elect Sam Adams, Mixologist Lucy Brennan, and Bike Geek Around Town Reverend Phil, will evaluate the mixings of three Portland bartenders.

Just $10 gets you in the door, and there will be all kinds of chances to get more goodies if you have more cash to give. The competition is 9:00 to 9:30, followed by some fine DJs and dancing.

So come on down! 205 NW 4th Ave. Doors at 7pm.


Iron Bartender handbill

Iron Bartender handbill

It’s our turn: tech tools for government

Posted in customer service, open government, politics, WikiWay with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on November 23, 2008 by Pete Forsyth

I’m working on a piece of legislation, and we need your help. It’s something that will help us all make Oregon, and the rest of the world, a better and more prosperous place to live. Please add your name to the page linked above, and please also consider pitching in to develop the bill!

In recent years, I’ve been amazed by all the exciting new ways of developing idea that are emerging new technology. I spend way too much of my time writing and editing articles on Wikipedia; I read blogs, and ask questions in the comments; and obviously, I’ve taken a crack at keeping my own blog. I check in on what my friends are saying on Twitter.com a couple times a day; I listen to talk radio shows, and call in or email when it seems like they’re missing something. And pretty often, I meet and get to physically shake hands with someone that I’ve known for months or years, and worked with extensively.

But at the same time, I’ve been pretty disappointed by how little government seems to take advantage of these kinds of tools for innovation, policy development, disseminating information, and generally keeping people up to date with what’s going on in their world and how they can change it. There are some rays of hope, but by and large, government approach to the Internet is still struggling to catch up to 1995.

This January, with a fresh crop of legislators heading to Salem, we have a chance to work for a kind of change that will help us all stay better-informed about what our government is doing, and about how to influence it in our areas of passion and expertise. The Obama supporters among us may be shouting “Yes We Did,” but I believe that “Yes We Can” remains the better phrase. We may have succeeded in electing a president who will be more open to innovative ideas, but our job of supplying those ideas — and developing the same kinds of conditions on a local level — is just beginning.

The bill I’m working on — and hope you will help us work on — will address at least four areas: Continue reading

Can you dig it, CC?

Posted in open government with tags , on November 5, 2008 by Pete Forsyth