Being a student i am more than familiar with how wiki’s work and i can safely say that the king of the wiki world; Wikipedia is a starting point for all my research into a new topic area. But incase my mums reading and to anyone else out there who isnt sure exactly what a wiki is, heres a short video made by the awesome people at ‘Plain English’:
Wikis and Wikipedia have become a part of our everyday life, search for anything in Google and almost certainly Wikipedia appears as one of the top hits. But wikis arnt just being solely used for a world wide encyclopedia, corporations are starting to use them as a collection point for ideas and knowledge that would be lost if the employee would leave the company. As mentioned in the youtube video above wikis really help reduce the flow of unorganised emails and are ideal in a non structured work flow situation. But before we go into the benefits and disadvantages of wikis anyfurther i will present you with a real world example:
The Future Melbourne webpage was set up in late 2008 by the City Of Melbourne Council as a method of getting residents views on the longterm future direction of the there city. What made the site unusual was it was created as a wiki allowing for users to edit aspects of the plan and join into a city wide discussion on where to take the city in the next 10 years. To help create a structured discussion of ideas, six key goals where created to achieve the vision of “It envisages Melbourne to be a bold, inspirational and sustainable global city and one of the top ten most liveable and sustainable cities in the world”. These visions where:
- A city for people
- A prosperous city
- An eco-city
- A knowledge city
- A creative city
- A connected city
The website was part of a number of consultation schemes used during the 4 week period that also included the more traditional face to face meetings, mailings and the more modern on/off line forums and email. During this period the webpage received over 30,000 page views by 7000 different residents and nearly 200 edits undertaken by these residents to the plans. Compare this to the number of visitors to a more traditional Town Hall planning outline then the jump in residents is very impressive.
Aswell as these, there where also a number of other advantages:
- Easy to use, meaning it appeals to a number of generations
- Encourages discussions, in this case a discussion forum was set up for each page allowing users to ‘bounce’ ideas off each other.
- Shows a clear indication of the progression of ideas and suggestions by looking at the history.
- Highly flexible, allowed the council to post the data in a number of ways (text, graphs, images, videos, tables)
The disadvantages found in this example are:
- Anyone is able to edit the wiki page and remove other residents opinions and ideas.
Example: A reporter heard that in the Melbourne process a transport expert spent some time setting out some detailed proposals only to fnd that they had been deleted and replaced with something, shall we say less expert, a few hours later. [Bang The Table, 2008]
- Open to spam and vandalism
- Requires an internet connection (other options offered to residents)
- Organisation of this information can become unorganised
In response to a number of the critisims the Future Melbourne Team respone by saying:
As per standard wiki functionality, every edit made to the plan by the public (and City of Melbourne) was archived for posterity, and remains available for anybody to view by selecting the ‘history’ link at the bottom of each page. Sometimes comments or suggestions received during consultation can involve State or Federal Government responsibilities beyond the reach of City of Melbourne. Both during and following the completion of the consultation period, the Future Melbourne team, along with key experts, reviewed the contributions made and endeavoured to organise, refine and incorporate the range of ideas in the most practical and inclusive way possible.
As corporations and business become more familiar with the benefit of web 2.0 like wikis then the using of this technology and new ways to use it will only grow.