Posts tagged "wikis"

CNET on Wikis

CNET is doing a special five day report entitled “Taking back the Web”. I just finished reading day two, which is dedicated to wikis. If you are trying to wrap your head around wikis or want to read about some of their applications, go read How wikis are changing our view of the world.

Although initially conceived as a form of communal publishing, the wiki is quickly evolving into a multipurpose interactive phenomenon. As evidenced in the aftermath of Katrina and the Londong bombings a month earlier, wikis can be a life-saving resource that provides real-time collaboration, instant grassroots news and crucial meeting places where none exist in the physical world.

Blogs versus Wikis

As I have written in the past, wikis are collaborative tools that essentially allow any web page of a site to be easily edited without a user having any knowledge of HTML.

Blogs and wikis are two specific types of content management systems (CMS). As such, one of their key goals is to provide a venue to quickly publish and edit content for the web. While these two buzz words share other commonalties, there are also a number of very important distinctions between the two. I’ve created a visual to quickly summarize some of the differences.

I encourage you to compare the MSNBC blogs to Wikipedia to see these technologies in action. Please note that what I provide above is simply a framework to think about how blogs and wikis are used – there may be contradictions.

Any questions or thoughts are most welcome.

Collaborative Power via Wikis

The New Internet offers a number of ways to make your work day more efficient. While blogs are all the buzz right now my bet is that wikis will have a more profound impact in the office.

The reason? Blogs do have an interactive element, where thoughts other than the author’s can be shared (typically via comments or trackbacks) but they represent “one-to-many” conversations. More importantly, those conversations become archived over a very short period of time, forever disappearing from home or index pages.

There are commonalities between blogs and wikis. Both provide their users with simplified content management, putting the power of IT into the hands that matter most, content creators. But unlike blogs, wikis are a many-to-many collaboration tool, used in a much more “stable” web environment.

“Stable” because wiki ‘pages’ are static; content may change over time but URLs and navigation will remain the same. Considering that point, some sites run their entire web presence via highly customized wikis (check out OpenFormats.org – powered by one of our favorite wiki engines).

Ezra Goodnoe writing for InformationWeek describes this element of wikis as follows:

Wikis are structurally capable of handling conversation, but it is not their forte; instead, wikis excel at collaboration. They are intended to maintain a series of unique documents as their content evolves and to provide an organic means of organizing that information.

What is a wiki?

Wikis are dynamic online knowledge sharing tools. The term “wiki” means “quick” or “informal” in Hawaiian. Wikipedia, the most famous of all wikis, describes a wiki as

a web application that allows users to add content, as on an Internet forum, but also allows anyone to edit the content. The term Wiki also refers to the collaborative software used to create such a website.

The technical community has used wikis extensively to facilitate such items as installation documentation or FAQs. Wikis have not gained mainstream notoriety yet but they will. TECHNOSIGHT will be leading the way.