Thursday, November 03, 2005

What Wikis Do

Just came from Wiki Wednesday at SocialText headquarters, and had to meet some really great people into both the consumer and enterprise wiki space. There's a lot of noise on wikis these days that started when JotSpot got some funding.

Spent time discussing wikis with both Jack H. of WikiHow and David Weekley of PBWiki. They have great executions of wikis. WikiHow, born out of eHow, extends its article writing to a community of users and allows the model to scale (v. having paid authors do the writing; its just like Wikipedia). David W's approach is straight-forward - keep it simple: people don't know what wikis are. Don't complicate matters. Let them use it and learn.

Personally, the concept of wiki is difficult to understand. Try explaining it to mom. If you can, then I think your blessed. Blogs, which can be explained as 'online diary' is a challenge in itself.

It's because of this reason that wikis must be explained in a way that people understand. The way this could be done is by enabling it to do one_certain_thing. If you're a wiki person, you'd probably say that you can use wikis to write reports, to coordinate schedules, to keep notes, etc. Unfortunately, non-techie types are not that imaginative. How about a wiki just for writing papers or calendaring a group schedule? This service with have features tailored to its use, of course.


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