[p2p-research] Slashdot | Army Asks Its Personnel to Wikify Field Manuals

Paul D. Fernhout pdfernhout at kurtz-fernhout.com
Sat Aug 15 15:50:18 CEST 2009

"The NY Times reports that 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, using the same software behind Wikipedia. The goal, say the officers 
behind the effort, is to tap more experience and advice from battle-tested 
soldiers rather than relying on the specialists within the Army's array of 
colleges and research centers, who have traditionally written the manuals. 
'For a couple hundred years, the Army has been writing doctrine in a 
particular way, and for a couple months, we have been doing it online in 
this wiki,' said Col. Charles J. Burnett, the director of the Army's Battle 
Command Knowledge System. 'The only ones who could write doctrine were the 
select few. Now, imagine the challenge in accepting that anybody can go on 
the wiki and make a change — that is a big challenge, culturally.' Under the 
three-month pilot program, the current version of each guide can be edited 
by anyone around the world who has been issued an ID card that allows access 
to the Army Internet system. Reaction so far from the rank and file has been 
tepid, but the brass is optimistic; even in an open-source world, soldiers 
still know how to take an order."

This is obviously a weird convergence of authoritarianism and peer-to-peer, 
but is in accord with Manuel de Landa's point that there are no pure 
hierarchies or pure meshworks. :-)
"Indeed, one must resist the temptation to make hierarchies into villains 
and meshworks into heroes, not only because, as I said, they are constantly 
turning into one another, but because in real life we find only mixtures and 
hybrids, and the properties of these cannot be established through theory 
alone but demand concrete experimentation."

--Paul Fernhout

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