As midterms, spring break, and the half way point of this past paced semester approach our class has finally emerged into our wiki phase. The early part of this phase, much like Bootcamp, is going to be difficult, confusing, rewarding, and challenging. I knew very little about wikis coming into this week, and still have a lot to learn undoubtedly. I am still quite uncertain of the upcoming future, and what it holds for me.
Our week got off to a similar, but different start in comparison to previous weeks. We were asked to wander other blogs and post about our four favorite posts of week six. I followed the guidelines set by Mr. Morgan and Lorelle VanFossen. The guidelines were very helpful, and what resulted was a short, neat post about the four best posts of the week.
Then we merged into wikis on Wednesday. Our class time this week was spent getting us up to date on wikis, getting us setup, introducing new readings, and showing examples of what is to come over the next few weeks (or months?).
We were asked to make a contribution to the wiki on Thursday or Friday, then again on Saturday or Sunday. First off, after reading chapter 10 from The Wiki Way, I posted some quick thoughts and observations from the chapter. That work can be found here; my named is listed underneath the contribution. Here it is in text form:
I thought I would highlight some key points from the chapter, and tell what I found interesting. I know very little about wikis thus far, so this all may sound incredibly wrong (sorry). Wikis are foreign territory. The readings and the wiki itself is slowly helping me grasp just what exactly my role in this secret society is, but I am not there yet. It is going to take time, without a doubt.
There were a couple of key phrases I found relatively early in the chapter that peeked my interest. Here they are:
• An acquired taste
• A sense of growing community
• A forum for open debate
• Affects in an overall positive way
• True community efforts
• Wiki is change
• Visitors can feel uneasy
The chapter points out that wikis can be too open and chaotic for some, and that it can be an acquired taste. As far as Wikipedia is concerned, which is the only wiki I was aware of prior to this course, I think people are drawn to it but most would steer clear of actually making changes/corrections. I do not know what “wiki culture” feels or looks like (yet), but I have a feeling I will find out soon and will be able to make a judgment towards the “acquired taste” aspect. It feels as if this is true, but I refuse to make that call just yet.
Once engulfed in the wiki it is said that we discover a sense of community that expresses itself through its archived writing and the continual editing of content. I certainly see why, and just like in any community there is going to be mistakes, animosity, frustration, discovery, growth, failures, rebirth, etc.
Is a wiki a forum for debate? Perhaps. Not all wikis are open for debate I would imagine. I am sure there exist some that are run by one man, one woman, or several people who choose not to step on each other’s toes. I do not know enough about them yet, but I feel as if it will difficult to edit other people’s hard work with my own that could be equally incorrect.
Overall, the view of wiki’s involvement is seen as positive. Overall, I agree how they could be. These interactions through wikis can have dramatic effects on knowledge, understanding, self-worth, skills, etc. There can always be a negative underlying in there, but I image that overwhelmingly the affects of wikis are positive.
Leuf and Cunningham believe that wikis mimic true/real community efforts. The members of these communities have to deal with ethics, abuse, change, conflict, coexistence, diversity in views, rights, etc. But that is not what actual communities go through day-in and day-out, really. There is family, disease, actual love, blood shed, face-to-face human contact, and so on. I see the point they are trying to make, but I doubt a sense of true community will come as a result of my involvement in a wiki. However, there are going to be other things that come about as a result that are just as formidable as a true sense of community. Time will tell what those things are.
“Wiki is change.” Constant, never-ending, tiring, educational, disheartening, uplifting change. It does not stop, but that is the point. They can’t stop. They won’t stop. They won’t blink, nor should you. It is a lot to take in, I am certain, but if you embrace the madness and worry none than the result will be knowledge and understanding.
There is a perfect quote from the chapter that illustrates the feelings of probably 90% of our class two days following our submergence into wikis, “Especially when new to a wiki, visitors can feel uneasy and therefore hesitate to edit pages. For them the Wiki system is simply too open, too anarchistic.” I will end on that note.
I was still getting started with wikis, and learning the concept and ideals of it all. The contribution is just some minor thoughts about some interesting ideas from the chapter. From there I moved into Wiki Web Collaboration chapter 1. I took JoeStusynski’s lead, and wrote some commentary and facts about Wiki Clones, which I found very interesting from the chapter and felt it needed to be included. That can be found here. Below is the text:
New challenges and programs have emerged because of the development and utilization of the WikiWikiWeb. There are currently 200 different types of wikis. These programs are called “clones,” because of their imitation of original wikis with added functions. The majority of them carry the “term” wiki in their name. Examples:
UseModWiki: One of the oldest, most widely-used wiki clones. It is written in Perl and has influenced a number of developing wikis.
MediaWiki: Conceived for the Wikipedia encyclopedia project. Consists of scripts written in PHP.
MoinMoin: Widely-used clone written in Python. Enables user registration, is user-friendly, has a “pleasant” layout, and has a plugin system.
PhpWiki: Has several administration functions and a plugin architecture. PHP is the foundation for the wiki.
WakkaWiki: Simple, small, and popular wiki. “Lives” in other clones, such as ComaWiki, WikkaWiki and UniWakka.
TikiWiki: Also written in PHP. Offers a series of useful features that compare to those of existing systems and groupware. The wiki is just one component of additional groupware features, such as forums, newsletters, and chat, calendar and blog functions.
These clones are more than a cool concept, they are prime examples of taking a smart, inventive wiki and expanding upon them. Wikis are here for the enhancement, change, furthering, extending, and molding of text, thought, ideas, knowledge, and betterment of ones mind and body.
I did mention my name under the work, but it should be seen as fact, not necessarily my own thoughts. I took what the chapter had to say, remixed it to be shorter and simpler for our audience.
It was a challenging week. My knowledge of wikis is small. It will undoubtedly grow as the weeks progress, and my confidence will grow. It will still be difficult to begin to make contributions with more conviction and poise. The wiki is uncharted territory for me; it is majestic. My curiosity is peaked. I will work hard to make my voice heard louder next week and beyond. That is my goal.