Ed already said it much, much better. I agree with Ed, and stand by his rationale.
So, why write this?
I want to document what a wonderful example this little project is of open source software, permissive intellectual property licenses (Public Domain dedication in this instance), open data, and how all of these things together can change in the world.
In the two weeks since Ed has shared his code, it has 179 commits from 24 different contributors. It has been forked 92 times, has 33 watchers, and 460 stargazers. In addition, we've witnessed the proliferation of similar inspired bots. Bots that surface anonymous tweets from national government IP ranges (U.S., Canada, France, Norway, etc), state and provincial government IP ranges (@NCGAedits, @ONgovEdits, @lagovedits, etc), big industry IP ranges (@phrmaedits, @oiledits, @monsantoedits, etc), and intergovernmental organization IP ranges (@un_edits and @NATOedits). I'm aware of over 40 at the time of this writing, and new bots have consistently appeared daily over the past two weeks.
These bots have revealed some pretty amazing and controversial edits. Far, far too many to list here, but here are a few that have caught my eye.
- Russian government anonymous edits on flight MH17 page
Статья в Википедии Список авиационных катастроф в гражданской авиации была отредактирована ВГТРК http://t.co/peZ60q07Fj— Госправки (@RuGovEdits) July 18, 2014
- Canadian House of Commons anonymous edits to Shelly Glover (Minister of Canadian Heritage) article
Shelly Glover Wikipedia article edited anonymously by Canadian House of Commons http://t.co/Vmap9kACY7— Gov. of Canada edits (@gccaedits) July 14, 2014
- Canadian House of Commons anonymous edits to Pierre-Hugues Boisvenu (Senator) article
Pierre-Hugues Boisvenu Wikipedia article edited anonymously by Canadian House of Commons http://t.co/zUr17E7pqn— Gov. of Canada edits (@gccaedits) July 16, 2014
- Homophobic anonymous edits from Natural Resources Canada to Richard Conn article
Richard Conn Wikipedia article edited anonymously from Natural Resources Canada http://t.co/i46xD2kUis— Gov. of Canada edits (@gccaedits) July 21, 2014
Much more important than these selected tweets, this software surfaces "big data" in a meaningful way. It provides transparency. It empowers a citizenry. It exists as resource for research and investigative journalism. And, most important in my opinion, software written and shared like this, can push all the cynicism aside, and give one hope for the future.