Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Lesson 14: Gettin' wiki with it!

Unless you've been in hiding for the last couple of years, you'll have heard the word Wikipedia in the news. You might even have a vague impression of it as a bastion of misinformation and what used to be called flame wars (called edit wars on Wikipedia, there have been some doozies!) While it does have its problems, Wikipedia is still the most well-known example of a wiki. What is a wiki? In a nutshell, a wiki is a website that can be edited by anyone. In execution, it's a tad more complicated than that--many wikis require users to have an account before editing is possible, and some wikis are limited not only to a prescribed set of authors but restricted to a finite set of viewers, as well. Major features that make wikis a popular tool for collaborative creation of web content include:

  • Anyone can add, edit or delete content (some restrictions may apply depending on the nature, purpose and configuration of the wiki or a few of its individual pages).
  • Tools exist to allow users to track what changes are made and by whom.
  • Any change can be reversed, allowing documents to revert back to an earlier state when necessary.
  • Users need only know how to type into a box to contribute to a wiki.
  • Many wiki sites contain "discussion" or "talk" pages that allow users to discuss content or changes to content.
Discovery exercise:

Use some of these wikis to see how this flexible tool is being used in libraryland. Write a short blog entry about your favorite library wiki or about an application for a wiki that you might see in our own library.
And of course, a new topic would not be complete without a Common Craft "Plain English" video:

No comments: