Janesville55.3°

GM experience unfolds in cyberspace

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JAMES P. LEUTE
February 18, 2008
— Remember 1937, when two United Auto Workers locals merged in Janesville?

Or 1942, when production of Chevrolet automobiles was discontinued in Janesville and Fisher Body workers made artillery shells for World War II?


If those events were before your time, maybe you remember 1966 and the local debut of Chevy Caprices and Impalas, 1988 and the introduction of Buick “J” Cars or 1991 and the production of the Chevy Blazer.


Whatever your memories are of General Motors, the automaker wants to hear them.


With the recent launch of “Generations of GM Wiki,” the automaker is putting a 21st century, open-source twist on the way its history is told in cyberspace.


A wiki is computer software that allows users to create, edit and link Web pages. Wikis often are used to create and power community Web sites. One of the best known is Wikipedia.


GM is inviting people from around the world to share their experiences from the company’s first 100 years. To add entries, users will register their e-mail on www.gmnext.com and click the “Wiki” tab at the top of the page. From there, they can post a picture, write a story or read what others have shared.


The wiki is based on a timeline of basic facts about GM’s history. Using technology similar to that pioneered on Wikipedia, the GM wiki expands on the history through links to stories, images, videos and audio.


Submissions are moderated so they follow a set of rules, said Scot Keller, GM’s director of corporate brand communications.


“Moderators will keep people on subject and screen for profanity and personal attacks, but ultimately it’s the job of the wiki community to control the content,” Keller said.


While the wiki debuted to the public at the recent Chicago Auto Show, GM has promoted it to employees and retirees—including those in Janesville—since December.


A quick search of the wiki for “Janesville” yields only the 1919 history of Samson Tractors, but Keller expects that will change.


“We’re really excited about it and think it will catch on as people start to tell their great stories of GM,” he said.


ON THE WEB
To visit or use the “Generations of GM Wiki,” visit www.gmnext.com and click on the ‘Wiki’ tab at the top of the page. To add submissions, users will register their e-mail.

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