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Re: [ba-ohs-talk] Wiki experiences?

On Mon, 4 Mar 2002, Eugene Eric Kim wrote:    (01)

> I know Chris Dent is using MoinWiki, and John Sechrest has also used and
> administered Wikis.  What are your experiences?    (02)

(I mostly address the wiki thing here, but I also make a suggestion
for the mailing lists, from the backlink thread, based on wiki
failings)    (03)

I find the WikiWay to be a delightful thing. However I'm not sure how
well it works in what might be called "serious applications".    (04)

My primary use of Wiki has been as a teaching aid for an information
representation class. It's been a nice way to distribute information
but we are having a hard time getting students to contribute. I think
this is the problem with any "public" access tool. What is the
perceived need? Is it important enough for people to get over barriers
to use?    (05)

The main benefits:    (06)

 * anybody, anywhere, anytime    (07)

   Have browser will travel. Barriers to use are very very low.    (08)

 * Easy linking.    (09)

 * Easy changes, easy comments.    (010)

 * Very positive attitude    (011)

The main disadvantages:    (012)

 * anybody, anywhere, anytime    (013)

   While the problems associated with anybody editing can be overcome
   with authentication and versioning, it takes away a lot of the
   flavor and raises the barriers to activity.    (014)

 * poor editing interfaces    (015)

   I was considering the other day that a well built web browser would
   include a more full featured text editor for <textarea> form
   elements. I do not write complicated wiki pages because it is a
   pain in the butt. I could, I suppose, edit somewhere else and cut
   and paste or something similar but that raises the barriers.    (016)

   Are their editors out there which will spawn an external editor or
   embed one? I think that would change the shape of collaboration on
   the web. I use email as my primary tool for collaboration because I
   have greater access to my personal toolset there.    (017)

 * granular addressibility is difficult    (018)

   Constantly changing pages means that persistent references have to be
   associated with versions. That means, as mentioned elsewhere, you
   can't just throw some purple number code into the presentation
   engine and have them work well.    (019)

My Warp tool (on the link in my sig) is like Wiki but much less
disciplined. I like it better than Wiki because it generates
unintentional associative links but more importantly I can email
content to it. I'm led to believe there are some Wiki's that will do
this (and if not it would be relatively easy to implement).    (020)

I had a conversation with some friends once, probably last year, where
we discussed that the only thing that _really_ mattered that came out
of internetworked computers was email. This is certainly over stating
the case but I think it is true to say that email is _the_ killer app,
so much so that we've forgotten that it is an application at all.    (021)

Wikis, like most relatively new technologies are still fairly
obsessed with Wikis and not what can be done with them (at least for
people who are new to them). Email has greater saturation.    (022)

So, my summary of Wikis would be that they are neat but they suffer
from being a web based thing. That implies a great deal of
limitations.    (023)

I think the suggestion that we modify the mailing list program so that
messages can be tagged with their place in the archive is a good one.    (024)

If mhonarc and majordomo are living on the same machine it would be
possible to do the following in the majordomo code at the point where
it is preparing an outgoing message:    (025)

   check config for archive
   lock preparation of other messages for this list
   prepare the message
   scan the archive for the number (in the filename) of the latest message
   place the url of the number in the footer of the prepared message
           (or there may be a lot of other options here too)
           pipe the message to mhonarc
           set mhonarc as the first recipient on the list
   unlock preparation
   carry on    (026)

It's likely the locked stage of that can be narrowed somewhat to
hasten delivery.    (027)

What you would then have is the ability to jump to the message in it's
context, with purple.    (028)

I'm not sure, though, how much power this will necessary give people.
It is possible, presumably to change the direction of use. Instead of
using the archive as an archive and your mailer as a reader, read in
the archive, archive in your mailer, and only go to your unrev and ohs
folders when you need to respond to something?    (029)

I'm not a fan of that idea, though, because then I would be out of my
email, and in my email is where I want to be.    (030)

Chris Dent  <cdent@burningchrome.com>  http://www.burningchrome.com/~cdent/    (031)