Wiki, a Shared Blog for Distributed Teams, and for Everybody
Writable webs empower people to share knowledge effectively and to be more productive
- Wiki, a Blog (Weblog) for groups: Communities can organize and share content in an organic and free manner
- Extended with the right set of functionality, a Wiki can be applied to distributed teams to schedule, manage, document, and support their daily activities
- The web as a whiteboard for everybody.
Conference talk at VCWI 2005 IT Seminar in Eindhoven, Sept 2005
Slides available from http://id00243.id.tue.nl/JunHu/Events/WikiYourWeb
Ways to create and share content and knowledge
Challenges of Static web pages
- Some content is outdated
- When was the page last updated?
- Incomplete content
- Difficult to find content
- Inconsistency across departments
- Special tools, knowledge and permission required to maintain
Content is static, it has a webmaster syndrome
- If someone discovers a page with incorrect or insufficient information, (s)he will often ignore it because it takes too much time to find out who the webmaster is and to write an e-mail requesting an update
Challenges of Distributed Teams
- Open questions:
- How to get virtual teams working together efficiently?
- How to get everyone in sync?
- How to avoid duplication of efforts?
- Typical answers:
- Scheduled conference calls
- Occasional visits
- Shared network disks
- Instant Messaging (IRC, AIM, ICQ, etc)
Challenges of Distributed Teams
- E-mail and mailing lists are great, but:
Post and reply vs. post and refine
- Great for discussion, but ... hard to find "final consensus" on a thread
- E-mail is not hyper-linked and is not structured, content can't be grouped easily into related topics
- E-mail and attachments are not version controlled and it is difficult to determine the history of a document
Challenges of CMS
- Rigid structure (can be good and bad)
- Control over content more important over free form knowledge sharing
- Content is typically structured hierarchically or in table format, with limited cross-linking between pages
- Limited support for unstructured content, or content that has "structure and exceptions"
User Generated Content
- Get lots of momentum and conversation happening, but things tend to vanish into the archives and get lost. Topics can also get off-track quickly
- More directed than forums, but less flexible.
- Most flexible, great ability to cross-link information. Potential to be ruined by vandalism / revert wars. Less structured format doesn't lend itself to debate / discussion / conversation as well, but can result in a more coherent final position.
Blogs vs. Wikis
- Blog: (Weblog)
- Key: Easy to publish opinions of individual in regular intervals
- Media to express individual voice
- "Post media" (like e-mail), sometimes with feedback and talkback
Usually hosted service (e.g. Six Apart's TypePad)
- Key: Easy to create and refactor on content owned by group
- Media to express group voice, deemphasizing identity of individuals
- "Refactor media", content may change at any time
- Usually open source software, installed on own server
- Some Blogs have Wiki-like features, some Wikis have Blog capabilities
- Merge over time?
Email vs. Wiki
What is a Wiki?
WikiWikiWeb = Writable Web
- As quick to contribute as e-mail
- As easy to use as a website
Inspired by HyperCard; some call it a Blog for groups
- Wiki design principles:
- Should a page be found to be incomplete or poorly organized, any reader can edit it as they see fit
- Pages can cite other pages, including pages that have not been written yet
- The structure and text content of the site is open to editing and evolution
What is a Wiki? (cont.)
The original WikiWikiWeb has these features:
- Read-write web, every page can be edited using just a browser
- HTML form based editing
- Pages are served dynamically
Pages are linked automagically with camel case words LikeThis or words ["Like This"]
- Simple markup, no need to learn HTML
Try the WikiSandBox
- Over 100 Wiki engines based on the original Wiki idea, mostly open source
- Wiki has geek appeal
- Mainly used by Internet communities and academia
Open Source WikiEngines: Download and install
- Hosted Wiki services: Wiki farms
- Wiki appliance: Wiki in a preconfigured box
Socialtext Appliance: Based on Kwiki with some proprietary extensions
What is Wiki good for?
- Company Intranet
- Community Builder
- Educational Collaboration
- Personal Web Site or Blog
- Small Business Site
- Online Notebook
- Personal Information Manager
Examples: Wikipedia (cont.)
Wikipedia: Wiki + Encyclopedia
- A free encyclopedia that is being written collaboratively by its readers
- Project started in January 2001
- The most active public Wiki: There are over 290,000 articles in English; more in 50 other languages
Anyone in the world can edit any page.
Doesn't that lead to chaos?
Content can be freely distributed and reproduced under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License
Examples: WordPress Manual
Examples: Chinese Python
Examples: Sensei's Library
Examples: Watermark Diary
Wiki Basics A
- Wikis are collections of pages:
Wiki Basics B
- Every page in a wiki is editable
- Just click, type and save!
Wiki Basics C
- Every page has a name
- Linking to a page is as simple as writing its name
- Version control
- Version control
- Version control
- recent changes
Plain Text Editing
Pesudo Rich Text Editing
Rich Text Editing
E-mail Habit - I prefer e-mail
E-mail doesn't scale - new people, new technology, new customers, new partners...
Shared knowledge vs. 'Owners' - I don't want to edit someone else's page
Wiki culture: nobody 'owns' pages, and any change can be built upon
First person to create page is not the owner!
'No control' syndrome - This leads to chaos
Wikis provide access control.
Soft security, audit trail, peer review
Wiki syntax - yet another language
Wiki is just plain text, e.g., just '''do it''', you will do it
Use the help pages, doesn't take long to learn
Questions and Answers
Some of the content of this talk is from an excellent introduction to TWiki by Peter Thoeny: Wiki Collaboration and Wiki Applications for the Enterprise
MoinMoin: see Frontpage. This is the wiki I am using to give this presentation.
Wikis at HowStuffWorks
More introduction about Wiki see Wiki entry on Wikipedia.
- For people who are seriously interested
- The Wiki way: quick collaboration on the Web, B Leuf, W Cunningham - 2001 - Boston: Addison-Wesley
Emerging Technologies: Blogs and Wikis: Environments for On-line Collaboration B Godwin-Jones, A Tools, S Tools - Language Learning & Technology, 2003