Yesterday we were discussing the latest bit of news on WikiLeaks over lunch, when somebody asked “Where does the word “Wiki” come from? What does it mean?” Good question! And nobody knew the answer to it then and there. So this is the post-lunch-research blog post.

As we all know, a wiki is a website that allows visitors to add, remove, edit and change content. An open-source wisdom archive, so-to-say. The most famous version of that kind must be Wikipedia.  This collaborative format and its technology for organizing information on web sites, was developed by a guy named Ward Cunningham, who in 1995 launched the WikiWikiWeb.  The story goes that a trip to Hawaii inspired Cunningham to use that word for his invention. At the airport he was told to use the “wiki wiki bus”, a fast shuttle to the adjacent terminal. The wiki wiki bus inspired the naming of the  wikiwikiweb and the rest is history. You could also say that this is the story of how a Hawaiian word became a global idiom.

While we are at it, the latest news now is that former WikiLeaks German staffer Daniel Domscheit-Berg is launching is own kiss-and-tell site. He had become increasingly unhappy with Assange’s workings and defected from WikiLeaks in September.  Watching the global controversy built around the secret-spilling organization, he has taken a different approach with his own OpenLeak project. That is keep the anonymous submissions channel, ditch the controversial and resource-draining publishing piece altogether.

Along with several other former Wikileaks staffers, Domscheit-Berg plans to launch OpenLeaks next week. He gave interviews to US media stating the new site will allow leakers to anonymously submit information to a secure online dropbox. But unlike its parent site, it won’t publish that information itself. Instead, it will allow the source to designate any media or non-governmental organizations he or she chooses and have that information passed on for fact-checking, redaction and publication. That difference, argues Domscheit-Berg, will allow OpenLeaks to accomplish much of the transparency achieved by WikiLeaks, without drawing the same political fury and legal pressure.

However, neither “wiki” nor “open” leaks, are “wikis” in the true sense of the invention.