“Mostly Harmless” – Wikipedia’s first 10,000 edits (from Boing Boing)

Joseph Reagle, author of the excellent history of Wikipedia, Good Faith Collaboration (review coming soon) sez, “When I wrote my book on Wikipedia’s culture and history, many sources, such as emails from founders, Nupedia-l archives, and (most sadly) the early days of Wikipedia contributions were lost to bit rot. But thanks to a recent discovery of some old log files by Tim Starling, I’ve been able to roughly reconstruct the first 10,000 edits to Wikipedia (about 6 weeks).”

There is probably some good behaviour data to mine here, for those wanting to kick off their own encyclopaedia-style or knowledgebase wiki to imagine what their first 10,000 edits might look like.

Looking at the entry for Australia I was reminded of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.

To wiki is obviously human.

MediaWiki limits Enterprise 2.0

I have had a fair share of hands-on time with wikis. With that said, I’ve come to a conclusion — MediaWiki inhibits Enterprise 2.0.

I’m with Gil on this. I recognise that MediaWiki *never* claimed to be an enterprise social computing tool and that in many instances it was the bridgehead that introduced wikis inside the firewall, but it isn’t really fit for enterprise purposes beyond a very narrow use case. Gil goes on to describe four inhibitors: No rich text editor, no fine grained access control, no document management and no additional collaboration features.

Australian business decision makers full of FUD about wikis


Since it is unusual to see this kind of research locally, I downloaded a report on the barriers to wiki adoption in Australia from Queensland-based analyst firm, Longhaus the other day.

While I’m not entirely convinced by their conclusions about the longer term value of wikis being data- and process- orientated in order to better fill the gap where portals failed (although I agree wikis have great potential as the interface for an enterprise mashup platform, but there is more to it that the front end), their survey of 51 CxO level people from medium to large Australian enterprise is worth a look if only to understand the FUD in the business community.

My own analysis of the 14 odd barriers they list (ignoring the last ‘other’ category) groups them in to four broad types of barrier that I’ve listed in order of frequency:

1. Ignorance of enterprise wiki technology options; 
2. Lack of familiarity of the wiki concept;
3. Uncertainty about the value; and
4. Internal barriers (e.g. business culture).

We’re constantly told that that issues such as understanding the ROI from social computing and business culture are the major barriers to implementation, but it would be a real shame if these were really underpinned by a lack of knowledge about the actual technology options and the capabilities of enterprise-grade wiki solutions!

The survey also asked about the benefits (knowledge management benefits rated highly, but it was good to see mention of improvements to workforce cohesion, communication and information management too) and their intent to use enterprise wikis in the future, with 12% of medium-to-large Australian firms having already implemented wikis and a further 44% in the process of planning or considering their use.

Barriers to enterprise wiki adoption: understanding the wiki-portal continuum, published in May 2009, is free to download but registration is necessary.

SharePoint or Wiki?

Archimedes famously told us that with a long enough lever and fulcrum to rest it on, he could move the world. The story of designing next generation intranets that are based on social computing principles, what some call, “intranet 2.0”, is also locked in a similar paradox: in theory just about any Web-based collaboration or information sharing tool has the potential to be a social computing platform, if only we have enough time and budget for its development.

Microsoft SharePoint is a great case in point. Massively successful, the free version of the SharePoint 2007 family, known as Windows SharePoint Services 3.0 (WSS), has slipped into organisations and has found itself embraced by users and IT departments alike. In many organisations, SharePoint may have been the first collaboration solution they had experienced as an improvement to networked file shares and email.

However, Wikis have also grabbed the attention of many organisations. Despite being a decade old technology, it was against the background of the Web 2.0 that Wikis finally appeared on the corporate radar. They offered a revolutionary “every page is editable” alternative to expensive or rigid Web and document management systems. And just like Windows SharePoint Services, there are many ‘free’ wiki software options available as open source.

You can now read the full version (with a few additional notes) of my recent Image & Data Manager (IDM) magazine article that compares Microsoft SharePoint with Wikis over on the Headshift Australasia blog. This article was published in the May/June 2009 edition of IDM.