The wikileaks papers are exquisite. In their scope and its specificity, they are immense. I don’t fully understand all of their implications, but I know that they are not ordinary. They represent sharing on a magnitude that we have not seen for years. Or, at least that is what many mainstream media outlets would have us believe.
To me, there is a much bigger leak that is happening every day now. It is so massive in scope that it makes the wikilink papers look like a children’s book of content. The leak that I am referring to is the newly public Google Docs.
A few months ago, Google Docs decided to change the default settings for how public documents would be indexed into the Google search engine. At the time, Google was telling everyone that if they wanted to maintain anonymity for their documents, they should “unpublish” the content. What was still up in the air was how all of the public documents would be made available to anyone who cared to search for them.
I have been spending the last few days looking at public documents that include intricate notes of meetings, planning documents for major projects, and simple to do lists. It is amazing to me to seen just how many people’s ideas are indexed in their unfiltered form. The difference between a web page or a blog post and a google document is that people use documents for more intimate communication and collaborative purposes. They use them to plan things that perhaps only a few people would find important. In fact, they use them much like many of the military personnel used the wikilinks documents. The public Google Docs are the types of communication that were formerly private but now have been given searchability in a way that only Google can do.
And I think this is good. I think that much of our communication is too private. The default for collaborative notes should be public and published. The minutes for our organizations shouldn’t have to be vetted before they are posted. They should be saved every half second as they are in Google Docs.
In other words, this type of leak should continue. We should continue to tell the stories of successful collaboration and creation. We should continue to share drafts with the world, complete with comments and unedited passion. The instinct should be that we leak our communication as often as we can. I know that we aren’t trading secrets of national security, but perhaps by doing this we will be able to rise above the secrecy that has plagued organizations the world over since the dawn of the industrial revolution. Finally we will be able to harness our institutional memory and momentum and move beyond doing the same things over and over again. We will start to build upon one another and through the process of simple sharing and searching, we will all become reporters on the major story of our time: Information, when attained through learning and collaboration, is the largest power there is.
Oh, and just in case you don’t know how to search the public google docs, go to google and type site:docs.google.com and then whatever search terms make sense. You may be surprised by what you find.
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