Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Wikis: A part of the DigitalNow Web 2.0 experience

A part of the next generation of interactive web applications, wikis are a way for members and stakeholders to collaborate online to rapidly make changes on the content of pages, while maintaining a history of all the changes that have been made. The best example is Wikepedia itself. Here is their definition of "wiki." (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wiki)

"A wiki is a website that allows visitors to add, remove, and otherwise edit and change content, typically without the need for registration. It also allows for linking among any number of pages. This ease of interaction and operation makes a wiki an effective tool for mass collaborative authoring. The term "wiki" also can refer to the collaborative software itself (wiki engine) that facilitates the operation of such a site, or to certain specific wiki sites, including the computer science site (the original wiki) WikiWikiWeb and online encyclopedias such as Wikipedia."

Different Types of Wikis
Generally, there are 3 different types of wikis: public, private, and protected.

While a public wiki can generally allow anyone to make, view, create, and edit content, many public wikis require users to register and create an account as at least a means to identify the contributor. This is a lightweight form of security for associations. The protected wiki is visible to the public, but only authorized selective users can make changes. This is controlled by a "super admin" or wikimaster. Finally, the private wiki might be a members-only wiki where all or only authorized members can view, create, and edit content.

How a wiki works

If you have Internet access, and a basic understanding of an editor or Microsoft Word, then you have everything you need to participate.

The basic steps are:
  1. Create content using the editor pad
  2. Hit submit
If you want to get fancy you can add links, or add formatting such as bolding, italics, etc. Some wikis have more advanced tools to help make this very easy.

Many associations have used a wiki as tool to support annual meetings. Several authorized contributors use the wiki to share their experiences or report about the conference. Others have used a wiki to collect lots of ideas and thoughts about a topic or issue. A wiki can even provide of way to catalog these ideas. (See Wikipedia.)

How does a wiki fit into a Community of Practice?
A wiki that is integrated into a Community of Practice (CoP) can:
  • help collect and catalog ideas on terminology or glossary
  • aid in the development of position papers
  • serve as a resoucre area for members to contribute
  • provide practice guidelines in a way that encourages input from the membership or selected individuals
A specific community could have its own wiki or an association or event might have a wiki. A wiki can either be a shared resource for the association-wide community or a module within a specific community that leverages specific tasks and capabilities.

How do I get started?
There are hosted, free wiki services, and those integrated as part of an association's Community of Practice. For many associations, creating a wiki using a third-party wiki-hosting service is a sensible choice as this option requires minimal setup and limited technical knowledge. Since setting up a simple wiki on a third-party site won't cost you a lot of money or time, your organization will not sustain major losses if the wiki doesn't gain traction. Once you are comfortable with the idea, then you can look at integrating it with your core central database.

Many "wiki farms" will host your content for free, though others charge a nominal monthly fee in exchange for greater flexibility and additional storage space. For a more extensive list of wiki farms, consult Wikipedia's Comparison of Wiki Farms.

Here are 2 great examples of associations that are deploying wikis:

  • The Alzheimer Society of Ontario's wiki provides a dynamic alternative to a traditional one-way intranet.

Finally, at DigitalNow we will be featuring associations who have jumped in to Association 2.0 by making use of Web 2.0 tools with great results.

Join our panel on Web 2.0 Great Practices: presented by Randall Moss, Manager of Futuring and Innovation Based Strategy, American Cancer Society, Patricia Goldman, Vice President, e-Business, March of Dimes, and Jenny Levine, Internet Development Specialist & Strategy Guide, American Library Association.

DigitalNow is the proven leadership conference for associations. To learn more about DigitalNow, and to register, please visit http://www.fusionproductions.com/digitalnow


At 11:48 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wikis are a great way to get your knowledge and ideas out. I have been posting some tips to this wiki www.tipcollection.com I know companies use them as collaborative tools, but seems more wikis for different communities are emerging


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