WikiWikiWeb: The Whiteboard Technology of Internet Communications
When the World Wide Web was first introduced, it promised to be the first truly
universal tool for mass communication - a voice for everyone, a global exchange
of ideas. Unfortunately, HTML technology isn't quite as easy to use as all that
and so the Web became more of a mass reading medium. Sure, you can post to online
newsgroups but your words are limited and you get lost among the multitudes.
Then along came blogs, aka Web logs, that allow an individual to quickly stream
ideas onto a Web page.
But the typical corporate environment needs something more. They need a platform
that allows quick and easy communication among group members, whether that group
is a product development team, a sales organization, a customer forum, or an
interactive discussion between a vendor and its suppliers. Only recently has
technology progressed to the point where such communication is possible.
Enter the WikiWikiWeb (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wiki),
a new collaborative technology that allows groups of people to write and edit
documents using a web browser. Wiki is based on a simple markup language that
is quick to understand. No prior review is needed before modifications are accepted
and most wikis are open to anyone who is provided access to the wiki server.
While some may be concerned about the accuracy and quality of the data being
uploaded, the idea is that because virtually anyone can participate, errors
will be quickly found and corrected.
There are obvious knowledge management applications for this technology. A
wiki can make it easier for a group to gather and consolidate information on
virtually any topic. The original and most popular wiki, was created by Ward
Cunningham to discuss patterns in programming. Other popular wikis are the Wikipedia
and the World 66 travel guide (http://www.world66.com/home).
In a July 29, 2004 Wall Street Journal article, Kara Swisher writes about how
wikis are altering the way employees work together. "Enter the wiki, which
has aims to revive the idea of the 'writable Web,' which was how the medium
itself was originally conceived by many of its earliest proponents. A wiki has
been likened by some to a giant digital whiteboard in a constant state of movement
The goal is to move beyond large, passive audiences reading Web sites and create
fluid, ongoing conversations that create a larger, more informative picture.
Stay tuned for a wiki coming your way.