Reflections On Personal Experiences In Using Wikis


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This talk was given by Brian Kelly, UKOLN at UKOLN's "Exploiting the Potential Of Wikis" workshop held on 3 November 2006.


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Reflections On Personal Experiences In Using Wikis

  1. 1. Exploiting The Potential Of Wikis: Reflections On Personal Experiences In Using Wikis Brian Kelly UKOLN University of Bath Bath Email [email_address] UKOLN is supported by: Abstract A brief review of personal experiences in using Wikis and some reflections of implications for institutional provision of Wiki services. This work is licensed under a Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 licence (but note caveat) Resources bookmarked using 'ukoln-wiki-workshop-2006' tag
  2. 2. Contents <ul><ul><li>Making a start: Wikalong </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Using Wikipedia </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>In-house use: Twiki and MediaWiki </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Bundled Wikis: Moodle </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Web 2.0 services: Writely, WetPaint, Jot, Pbwiki, … </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Reflections </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Using Wiki To Support Ourselves </li></ul></ul>
  3. 3. Wikalong <ul><li>Wiki used for workshop on &quot; Beyond Email: Strategies for Collaborative Working and Learning in the 21st Century &quot;, Nov 2004 </li></ul><ul><li>Wikalong tool used: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Hosted service for annotating Web pages </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Firefox/IE plugin </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Also referrer service </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Experiences </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Easy to use </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Data copied to UKOLN </li></ul></ul> ucisa-wlf-2004-11/discussion-groups/discussion-wikis Eventually (year+ later) spambot add link spam to page (& try to make invisible)
  4. 4. Wikipedia <ul><li>Also in Feb 2004 created Wikipedia entry on Rapper Sword, a personal interest (not morris dancing!) </li></ul> Over time content grows, appearance improves (through community support – e.g. corrections to German grammar). Decision to give geographical & historical emphasis. No longer in complete control (new-fangled US rapper team first to have entry in Wikipedia)
  5. 5. In-House Wiki - Twiki <ul><li>In 2005 Twiki software installed locally and used to support UKOLN's research interest (e.g. collaborative discussions on metadata elements by international metadata community). </li></ul><ul><li>Twiki then started to be used for other purposes. But: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Was it the right tool for other purposes </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Would be get locked in </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Training & support issues </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>… </li></ul></ul>
  6. 6. From Twiki To MediaWiki <ul><li>MediaWiki used to support (a) events and (b) JISC standards catalogue. </li></ul> community/index/IWMW2006 Wiki provision for events seems sensible: admin support; community building; clarification; etc. Wikis for collaborative document work seems sensible. Need to have shared agreement or mechanisms for handling tensions. Other issues: (A) Wiki as a process for stuff which is deployed elsewhere (e.g. writing papers) or Wiki as a delivery vehicle and (B) interoperability of Wikis; exporting data and application logic.
  7. 7. Experiences of In-House Wikis <ul><li>Ideal solution not yet identified: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>MediaWiki is liked by techies (MySQL, extensible, …) & is used in Wikipedia (scalable) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Patterns of usage not yet established (one Wiki or multiple instances) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Management of MediaWiki extensions may be a support issues </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Transclusion (embed content from one Wiki to another) sound great – but technical issues (performance, recursion) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Usability issues: what does home mean? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>How much training, support & development do we invest? </li></ul></ul>We have a need for an event which will help to resolve these issues!
  8. 8. Let's Try Some More! <ul><li>Various externally hosted Wikis used to gain experiences of approaches </li></ul>Pbwiki – note RSS links to pages (and versions of pages) Wetpaint – attractive interface and also RSS links to pages (and versions of pages) Suprglu – RSS aggregator, which can bring together RSS feeds from disparate Wikis (and other tools)
  9. 9. Bundled Wikis - Moodle <ul><li>Do you need dedicated Wiki software, if the functionality is provided in other enterprise software (VLEs, CMSs, etc.) </li></ul><ul><li>As part of ongoing evaluation of tools, approaches, etc., Wiki in Moodle used for planning a paper & arranging event. </li></ul><ul><li>Thoughts: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Poor interface </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Poor quality HTML </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>… </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Issues: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Evaluation of subjective aspects </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Improvements in next versions </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Replaced functionality (e.g. SOA) </li></ul></ul>
  10. 10. Licensed Wiki At Event – Jot <ul><li>Licensed Jot Wiki service used at ALT 2006 Research Seminar in Holland. </li></ul><ul><li>Used by participants in &quot; Emerging technologies & the Net Generation &quot; day's event. </li></ul> Participants described interests in Wiki prior to events Reporters summarised discussion groups using Wiki – and reported back where sat (chair scrolled through notes) Notes in digital form made it easier to produce white paper
  11. 11. Web 2.0 Services: Writely <ul><li>Writely used for planning paper. This provides: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Word-processing style interface </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Authentication system </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Multiple ways of saving file (publish to Blog; save locally in various formats) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>RSS disclosure </li></ul></ul>At one stage (just after Google buy-out) email authentication didn't work (invalid sender field meant email was not sent). However message sent to Writely forum resulted in fix within 2 days
  12. 12. What Is A Wiki? <ul><li>Is Writely a Wiki or a Web-based word processor? </li></ul><ul><li>Is Google Spreadsheets a Wiki: fill in values and see how the graph alters. </li></ul><ul><li>Thoughts: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Stop confusing things: it's like Wikipedia; it doesn't matter. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>We need to properly scope our Wiki deployment exercise; otherwise the scientists who wish to collaborate build data structure will be unhappy with a text-based Wiki service. </li></ul></ul>Is Gliffy a Wiki or a Web-based collaborative drawing tool: add a location where you think Wikis are on Gartner hype curve. Is a personal Wiki a Wiki ( Wikipad on Palm)?
  13. 13. Third Party Services <ul><li>Third party tool used on Web site to convert RSS to HTML </li></ul><ul><li>On 10 Oct, email received saying page was corrupt </li></ul><ul><li>Page fixed and problem investigated & documented </li></ul><ul><li>Company had failed to pay bill for domain (admin error)! </li></ul><ul><li>Bill was paid & domain quickly restored </li></ul><ul><li>Discussion: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Demonstration of why 3 rd party services must never be used </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Minor irritation; process for fixing worked & improved processes for minimising future risks developed (& processes will improve with community involvement) </li></ul></ul><ul><li>No innovation until central services get round to evaluation & deployment, or certain amount of risk acceptance. What’s the answer? </li></ul>
  14. 14. Reflections <ul><li>Some thoughts: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Support : Net generation happy to pick up and use various tools vs Oversimplistic </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Authorisation : Leave open vs simple authorisation vs need for single signon / Shibbolised services </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Usage : What do we want to use Wikis for? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Take-up : What will users use Wikis for and hpw with they use them (if at all)? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Key features in selection : technical (open source, backend database, …) vs user features (interface, ease-of-use) vs institutional (enterprise software; backend integration; …) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Outsourcing : Evil Thatcherite nonsense vs. sensible business decision vs sensible technical decision (APIs, Web Services, REST, RSS, …) </li></ul></ul>
  15. 15. Wikis & The Wider Community <ul><li>We've heard about: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Personal use of Wikis </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Institutional use of Wikis </li></ul></ul><ul><li>In discussion groups on deployment strategies let's also discuss use of Wikis to support our communities: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Wikis for the support services (library, IT) on evaluation of Wikis, deployment and support experiences, etc. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Wikis for case studies on use case scenarios </li></ul></ul><ul><li>If we can't produce sustainable Wikis, can we expect this to happen in our institutions? </li></ul>
  16. 16. Questions? <ul><li>Any questions </li></ul>