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Published: Monday, 8/6/2007

Konop to introduce wiki -style site for county information

BY JOE VARDON
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Lucas County Commissioner Ben Konop will introduce a Web site today that allows anyone to access or edit information for 445 nonprofit organizations and government entities countywide.

Mr. Konop s new site http://wiki lucas coun ty.com was crafted in the tradition of other wiki Web sites, which are online databases of pages anyone can edit in real time. The most famous wiki site is commonly known as Wikipedia a free, online encyclopedia with almost 2 million entries.

The commissioner, who started Lucas County government s first blog in March, said his latest technological service project will give people concentrated access to information about the county s wide array of service agencies.

Mr. Konop said those with questions or needs regarding education, health care, legal services, environmental quality, income security, and other areas will be able to go to his site to find what they re looking for.

With the site s wiki format in which anyone can add information to an agency s profile Mr. Konop said residents are encouraged to take a more active role in government.

It s really a grass-roots, democratic institution for the 21st century, he said.

Mr. Konop s inspiration for this project and many others he has undertaken in his eight months in office came from a man who died at the turn of the 20th century, former Toledo Mayor Samuel Golden Rule Jones.

Mr. Konop mentioned Jones, mayor from 1897 until he died in 1904, in a speech in December after he was sworn in. He has also cited Jones as inspiration for other recent projects, like an experimental bus loop that connected four Toledo cultural venues and the low-interest loan program to buy art.

On his wiki Web site, Mr. Konop offers a written commentary on the former mayor s progressive principles. He also made the site s launch date close to Jones birthday, which was Friday.

It all ties into the concept of government of the people, by the people, and for the people, Mr. Konop said. Golden Rule Jones was a Lincoln Republican, and I think [the Web site] is a version of how Golden Rule would like government to operate today.

Mr. Konop said he is paying for creation and upkeep of the site with leftover campaign funds. The site was designed by Terry Biel, 22, a University of Toledo graduate student.

Mr. Biel said he would make improvements and add features once the site s users offer feedback. A concern with any wiki site is its potential for abuse by some users, who could post incorrect or offensive information to any agency s profile.

Mr. Konop said most agencies that submit information to sites like his police their own listings and remove those incorrect or offensive remarks.

Jeanette Hrovatich of the United Way of Greater Toledo said she hopes people respect the services offered on the site.

This can be a great way to give people access to all of this information in one place, said Ms. Hrovatich, whose organization can be found on the site.

Contact Joe Vardon at:jvardon@theblade.com or419-410-5055.



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