I’ve been meaning to write about this ever since it popped up a couple of weeks back.
The Bush administration opted to release millions of pages of documents, recordings and other media captured in Iraq. I can only assume that someone thought that it was better to offer the world the opportunity to look, as opposed to doing nothing. (The U.S. has 48,000 boxes of documents stored in a desert warehouse in the Persian Gulf.)
U.S. Rep. Pete Koekstra, Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, put it this way:
“By placing these documents online and allowing the public the opportunity to review them, we can cut years off the time it will take to gain knowledge from this potential treasure trove of information. This decision effectively places a collar on the bureaucracy and unleashes the power of people and the Internet to help speed this process.”
Hiawatha Bray at The Boston Globe picked up on the same angle that came to my mind:
“It's the same ''open source" principle that drove the successful development of the Internet and of powerful free software like the Linux operating system. Instead of hiring a team of brilliant professionals to analyze Iraqi documents in secret, the open source systems will use hundreds of clever amateurs, who'll publish their work for anyone to analyze and improve upon.”
I think we are seeing the shape of things to come…