In-the-Flow & Above-the-Flow: Two Types of Wikis at Work

This article is from Michael Idinopulos, Vice-President, Professional Services and Customer Success at Socialtext:

I often hear from wiki champions inside organizations that “It’s hard to get people to use wikis”. There’s something right about that comment, but also something wrong. I’ll explain why.

Wikis can be used for many different activities, which fall into two broad categories:

  1. In-the-Flow wikis enable people do their day-to-day work in the wiki itself. These wikis are typically replacing email, virtual team rooms, and project management systems.
  2. Above-the-Flow wikis invite users to step out of the daily flow of work and reflect, codify, and share something about what they do. These wikis are typically replacing knowledge management systems (or creating knowledge management systems for the first time).

If you are familiar with my ideas about Intranet 2.0, then you’ll recognise that Michael’s distinction between “in-the-flow” and “above-the-flow” wikis fits very well with the three broad Intranet 2.0 strategies I’ve proposed: they are tactical social computing, a Web 2.0 orientated intranet and Enterprise 2.0. Exactly as Michael describes in-the-flow wikis, this is represented in my model as tactical social computing. This confusion is definitely a factor in the challenges of adoption, as I also found during my mini-workshop at the Enterprise 2.0 Executive Forum earlier in the year. Before you can understand how to implement, you need to understand what you are implementing.