Implications of Wikis

It’s been almost two months now that I’ve been working for BCD Travel and I’m loving every minute of it. I have the opportunity to participate in a lot of activities, etc that I never got to in my previous adventure. One of the things I’ve had the opportunity to implement is the use of a wiki for several “manuals” that we have. It’s a great starting point for the use of wikis in an environment that’s pretty new to the concepts and ideas. Right now it’s just a few of us in teh group that have author privs and can change content. What’s neat too is that I also have it set up that when they’re changes we all get notified. Pretty cool stuff. OK I’m digressing on the purpose of this post. SO I’m sitting here today thinking about wikis and the issue of what’s the next step and how to you set up the most successful environment for wikis to be utilized and successful? THAT is where I started today.

I’ve been reading several articles today on wikis and what makes them successful and found some interesting articles.

In Chris Taylor’s article Why commercial Wikis don’t work he shared some really good reasons why some wikis don’t work or are not successful. What I liked more than the examples of those wikis that don’t work was his explanation of what makes successful wikis and the idea of the concept of “walled gardens”.

When you think in the sense of Web 2.0’s success being “walled gardens” it’s sort of an ah ha moment, at least for me. I like the term garden because in a lot of respects what we do with collaboration tools and shared learning is a garden, We’re cultivating an environment where we share learning, help each other out and provide insight.

I think about some of the tools I use, like Flickr, and how I really do only look at specific sections, topics, etc in that “environment”. When I go to locations that seem to have no walls it’s very overwhelming and I’m not sure what I’m doing, how I can contribute or what the goal is. According to Chris,

The future of Web 2.0 belongs to sites that give its users directions and goals as well as total control. People need a common focus, a shared obsession, to be productive as a crowd.

I really think this statement has a lot of validity to it. Without an understanding of the purpose of a wiki, some direction and goals, a wiki has the high potential to become a “dumping ground” for content. I mean isn’t one of the many benefits of wikis that it enables immediate information sharing and collaboration? With this in mind it is vital that there be direction. Look at some of the examples out there of unsuccessful wikis and consider if they met the three criteria.

After reading this article and thinking about our team wiki, I really think we got it right, perhaps without even realizing it. I’ve created a wiki for us where we have a select group of us that are authors, our purpose and pages. I think because we do have a small group of users and pages are specific and the goals clear we’re set up pretty well. Now I think the fun part is to see what happens of the next few months.

Resource Links:
Why commercial Wikis don’t work