October 14, 2006

I just finished reading the Brian Lamb article and wanted to comment on something he mentioned concerning the primary reluctance of people to using Wiki’s: “Their objection to wikis is nearly universal: “If anybody can edit my text, then anybody can ruin my text.””

Brian goes on to say that  

“This concern is largely misplaced. Think of an open wiki space as a home that leaves its front door unlocked but doesn’t get robbed because the neighbors are all out on their front steps gossiping, keeping a friendly eye on the street, and never missing a thing.”

This presupposes that the neighbourhood is a good neighbourhood and the homeowner is trusting enough of the neighbourhood to leave their door unlocked; imagine if our trusting homeowner lived in on the wrong side of the tracks in detroit… would they still be as trusting to leave their door unlocked? the problem with Brian’s analogy is that you have control over who your neighbours are (by and large), by where you geographically situate yourself… however, on the internet, there are no geographical boundaries… if we are speaking about wiki’s on a corporate intranet, then it is a little easier to know who your ‘neighbours’ are when you are participating in the wiki; however, wikis that are available within the public domain have no such boundaries. on the internet, you cannot ‘move into a good neighbourhood’…

Brian goes on to say that “This ethic is at the heart of “SoftSecurity,” which relies on the community, rather than technology, to enforce order. Whereas “hard security” functions by restricting access or hiding pages…..”

again, this assumes that the community is good, or that the community has a vested interest in maintaining the integrity of the WIKI. I am speculating as to the accuracy of this presupposition after seeing the following on wikipedia:


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Jump to: navigation, search

Because of recent vandalism or other disruption, editing of this article by unregistered or newly registered users is currently disabled. Such users may discuss changes, request unprotection, or create an account.

as you can see, the definition of WIKI from wikipedia, one of our readings for the week, contained this notice at the beginning of the article. If Brian’s idea of “SoftSecurity,” which relies on the community, rather than technology, to enforce order” was as successful as he suggests in his article, then Wikipedia likely would not have had to implement technology to enforce order…

User-friendly Wikis?

October 11, 2006

hey everyone;

sorry for my late-ish post… i guess the tryptophan in my turkey caused me a little more sleepiness than i had bargained for! 😛

anyways, all turkey aside; i was reading the  and became quite skeptical of what the presenter was saying about the ease of use of wikis.

 i am going to be talking about a specific example about a department at the university of guelph which was using a wiki as a way of storing how-to information and essentially acting as a departmental intranet (Definition). the department members were using this wiki as a place to post all of their intra-departmental information, processes, procedures, how-to documents, documentation etc. the users of this system were quite frustrated at how limited the editing and formatting was; you essentially had to know HTML in order to format documents properly in the wiki. for example, if you wanted to include a simple table of potential scenarios on one side, and possible outcomes on the other within your actual wiki posting, GOOD LUCK; users were still limited by how they could format documents in the wiki based on their knowledge of HTML… even now as i type this posting on my wordpress blog, i am looking at the features available for my formatting of this blog, and i am faced with the following options: Bold, Italics, Crossout, bullets/numbering, indenting, left justify, right justify, centre, add a link, remove a link, add a picture and spell check. what about the table? what about having multiple columns in the posting, like a newspaper? i mean, for the average user posting the average text posting with the occasional picture/link, wiki’s seem great! however, if you wanted to say, create some sort of online tutorial which included a flash video you nabbed from the internet, or had a table embeded, or had other sorts of advanced editting, you would be limited by your understanding of HTML…

although, again, i think that both blogs and wikis have come a LONNNNG way since the ‘olden days’ when, even to just post simple text/pictures/hyperlinks on a website required knowledge of FTP protocols, FTP programs, HTML, website design…etc….

what do you all think? have you provided information to a wiki before? did you find the formatting limiting you in what you wanted to post? if you haven’t posted to a wiki before, do you find that your blog limits your ability to format posts precisely as you want? do you find that WYSIWYG isn’t always WYSIWYG (Definition WYSIWYG )?

 i realize you can attach a document that is formatted how you wish with some services, but i am just wondering about why, with all of the free online wordprocessors out there such as Writely and Zoho office, we can’t have a more rich editing interface than just the 7 or 8 options we currently have…