June 04, 2003


I love learning new stuff like this. In my pursuit to suck up knowledge on social networks I came across something new to me. A Wiki. Okay, we have Blogs. That name is goofy. My parents roll there eyes when I say the word. "Bllloggg?" Wait til I bring home "Wiki." But besides the name, it's sounds like a neat application with practical uses within organizations and companies. I feel like everyone knows about Wikis except me. But in case you're in the dark like me, Ross Mayfield explains:

Wikis let the group voice emerge.  Many people participate within a given wiki, each with an equal voice in a shared space that anyone can edit.  Its a different act of sharing to contribute your words to a page that others can build upon.  Our instinct is to at first believe this would create conflict and distrust, but it actually builds trust.    Each wiki page reflects the current consensual understanding of a given concept.  A page isn't a complete or perfect understanding, information and conditions change too quickly for it to be possible  Instead, a little wabi-sabi  and trusting others allows something powerful to emerge and stay current -- a simply powerful tool for collaboration.

We aren't the only one to think of the differences between weblogs and wikis as individual and group voices.  Elwin Jenkins describes it as weblogs turn individuals into webpages while wikis turn communities into webpages.

There are lots of similarities between the two tools.  Both are web native, are easy to use, are link-intensive and encourage sharing. 

Both are being widely adopted, wikis less visibly because of private group use and at different paces in different areas.  A customer once explained to me how he thought wikis were more popular than weblogs in Asia because group voice is valued greater than individual voice.  Regardless of popularity, different cultures and organizations will have different values that is reflected in their tool selection.

Its not a choice between one or another.  The temporal structure of weblogs and logical structure of wikis are a complement for lasting effects.  One of the more powerful patterns in an organization is how an opportunity is published in blog, possibilities are swarmed upon in blog conversation and then driven to consensus and outcome in a wikified document.  After the outcome, the knowledge and its social context remains. 

Jim McGee has more here and here. Thanks Dina for the great Wiki links! (she has even more if you visit her blog).

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