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technology, behavior and the network effect



Updated: 2017-12-12T06:46:17.507-08:00

 



We've Moved!

2006-09-09T21:48:06.906-07:00

thegoodseed is now at hubbub. Hope to see you soon.



Corporate Blogs Unplugged

2006-05-19T10:19:51.660-07:00

Third Thursday -- a Silicon Valley monthly meet-up on social media -- kicked into high gear last night with a panel talk on corporate blogging. PR reps from Cisco, Network Appliance and Ingres spoke what it takes to run a successful blog program inside a corporation today.

We knew this already from our own experience with SV clients, but last night provided ample evidence: smart businesses are not only blogging, but are already innovating. No way to learn but to do, and these three companies among many others are doing it.

We're co-organizers of this meetup, and next month it's our turn to play host. The theme is still under construction, but the general focus is a subject that's near and dear to the Eastwick practice: community.



Wik-Ed: Teach the World to Wik

2006-05-03T15:38:24.136-07:00

As promised, we've launched a new wiki to continue our exploration on best-practices in wiki-based collaboration. Like most wikis, this is a WorkInProgress, and we are starting small, and we are advancing incrementally. The first "project" is "33 Wikis" -- we're asking people to visit these pages, comment/edit/add, and list and describe wikis that we missed in our 33-day survey. We'll be adding many new wikis ourselves, but we're hoping the community of wiki watchers will help to build the content on this site, a new venue for people and businesses interested in educating themselves on how to build and maintain vibrant communities.



33 Wikis: #33 -- Wikipedia -- Making the Case for Wikis

2006-05-03T15:37:44.550-07:00

This is the thirty-third installment in "33 Wikis," a close look at best practices in wiki-based collaboration. Each day -- for 33 days -- we look at one wiki and briefly describe what the wiki is for, why we like it, and what we all can learn from it. If you want to nominate a wiki, please let us know. Tomorrow, we will post a public wiki featuring info on all nominees.What this wiki is for: by far the most popular and populated wiki community, Wikipedia is the world's largest online encyclopedia, with more than 1,000, 000 articles in circulation. But it is so much more. Wikipedia has spawned all sorts of related wiki projects including Wikinews, one of the earliest and most vibrant citizen journalism sites; Wikimedia Commons, an open repository of graphic images; and MediaWiki, a free wiki platform that many of the best public-interest wikis are built on today (just look at the other 32 wikis featured in this series, and you will see). Why we like it: Projects like Meatball and WikiWikiWeb have taught many net-savvy folks about the why and how of constructing wikis. Wikipedia extends the classroom to a much larger world. We spoke this morning to Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales, and he told us about the early days. His original idea, Nupedia, was a "Web-based encyclopedia whose articles were written by experts and licensed as free content." But they soon ran into content-management problems. After experimenting with a wiki tool, they quickly saw they light. "In two weeks, we were able to do more than what we accomplished in two years." But we also like Wikipedia because of the principles they have held since the beginning of the project. The organization has has steadfastly held true to the wiki way -- open, free, and easy-use. BTW -- Wales didn't meet Ward Cunningham, "father" of the wiki, until 2005. Still, if Cunningham is the promethean teacher of the wiki, Wales is his most prodigious student. By staying true to basic wiki principles, Wales has evolved the site from an odd-but-interesting project to a serious rival to not only Encyclopedia Britannica, but to other online news sources as well. Organically and naturally optimized for the post-Google world, Wikipedia is now the default reference for many consumers and professionals who spend most of their days on the Web.What we all can learn from it: If all Wales and company did was to make the world's most popular online reference, that would be no mean feat. In many ways, the encyclopedia -- a selective yet exhaustive compedium of all we know -- historically has always represented the ultimate "knowledge management" project. So if Wikipedia can manage an encyclopedia better -- more posts, more current information, and just as reliable as other sources -- what could be a better way of proving the usefulness of this new approach called wiki. Never mind that Wikpedia can often be wrong; other references are wrong nearly as often, and at least you can correct Wikipedia. And never mind that Wikipedia is not the most beautiful thing to read (as more than one cranky blogger has complained, pining, we suppose, for the days when most of the literate the world read Diderot -- sure); Wikipedia's commitment to fairness and "neutral point of view" more than compensates. And with the monumental achievement of Wikipedia under his belt, Wales is looking to enable people -- the wise crowd that has made Wikipedia such a success -- to extend the power of wiki to capture other "varieties of human experience" with free tools such as MediaWiki, and with community platforms like Wikia, the first commercial (ad-supported) venture to emerge from the Wikipedia world. Beyond that, Wales is working with a number of industry leaders (including Eastwick-client Socialtext), to make wikis easier to use for general consumers. It's an appropriate note with which to end this series, our best-faith attempt to show you what works in the world of wiki. Tomorrow we'll post a new wiki to conti[...]



33 Wikis: #32 -- WikiWikiWeb -- A Walk Down "The Wiki Way"

2006-05-03T15:36:26.820-07:00

This is the thirty-second installment in "33 Wikis," a close look at best practices in wiki-based collaboration. Each day -- for 33 days -- we look at one wiki and briefly describe what the wiki is for, why we like it, and what we all can learn from it. If you want to nominate a wiki, please let us know. On day 34 we will post a public wiki featuring info on all nominees.

What this wiki is for: WikiWikiWeb is the first wiki forum ever, and the current name of the first wiki engine.

But it's more than just a couple of cultural artifacts. The brainchild of software innovator/wiki inventor Ward Cunningham, WikiWikiWeb is a virtual repository of many of the ideas and discusssions that shaped the approach and indentity of wikis. The aggregate is an approach that many people in the wiki world now call "The Wiki Way."

Why we like it: So what is the wiki way? I met Ward Cunningham at a now-infamous night of parties at Web 2.0 2005. I was struck by how shy, humble but friendly was the father of wikis at a gathering of software honchos often known for other qualities on the human spectrum. I felt like I was meeting a gentle wizard. I say this with great respect: Cunningham represents a middle-earth of software development known for a more enlightened approach to the craft. Turns out that Cunningham and his brood were influenced by the deep and intuitive thinking of architect (buildings not software) Christopher Alexander, whose teachings I was introduced to years ago (1978) by another gentle wizard, a close friend of mine at Princeton (an architecture student) who was struggling to commit to a career he was certain he would hate. Alexander, then Cunningham, and then others, taught many people to find a higher purpose in their craft. For Cunningham, it has always been about "creating technologies that connect people."

Here's one thing you will learn on WikiWikiWeb: the utter simplicity of a good wiki. That's one of the early, controlling concepts that Cunningham helped to advance. Possibly his most famous quote, "what is the simplest thing that could possibly work?" A great question for a movement that would later take this technology to the masses.

What we all can learn from it: if you are truly committed to building a wiki, and are looking to understand the first philosophical impulses that brought this form into being, WikiWikiWeb is worth a visit. The conversation has evolved over the years -- most recently into the world of "extreme programming." Still, there's enough here to satisfy the curiosity of the most wiki-committed but technologically-challenged. It's a great walk for anyone, along the wiki way.



33 Wikis: #31 -- WikiIndex: The First "One Stop-Sign Town" in the Land of Wiki

2006-05-03T15:34:53.243-07:00

This is the thirty-first installment in "33 Wikis," a close look at best practices in wiki-based collaboration. Each day -- for 33 days -- we look at one wiki and briefly describe what the wiki is for, why we like it, and what we all can learn from it. If you want to nominate a wiki, please let us know. On day 34 we will post a public wiki featuring info on all nominees.

What this wiki is for: From the homepage: WikiIndex is "a wiki of wiki, wiki people and wiki ideas, a WorkInProgress. This is part of a continued effort to self-organize information collaboratively, started by WardCunningham a decade ago." In an email exchange with eastwikkers, organizer Mark Dilley noted, "my main goal is to have this be the first one stop sign town for wiki. People come here and add their wiki, tag it, maintain it like a front lawn and ask wiki related questions."

Why we like it: there are other indexes and lists that purport to do the same thing -- or similar things -- but WikiIndex is the best of its kind. The "33 Wikis" project is all about finding best-practices in wiki-based collaboration, and we couldn't have managed this project without the timely info that WikiIndex maintains. Among many of the useful pages on this site: wikis arranged by category, wikis that are vibrant (subjective judgment -- a wiki is vibrant if it "has significant content, or is very interesting, or has a high volume of traffic, or is valuable in some way to the Internet community"), and wiki noding, a "project that will ultimately allow users to discover entire wiki worlds by traversing the node network."

What we all can learn from it: Like Meatball, WikiIndex is a valuable resource for all citizens in wikidom. Lesson is not so much how to replicate what it does well; it's more about becoming knowledgeable in how wikis are being used, what works and what doesn't, and what's new from a use-case perspective. Oh, yeah -- be sure to add your own wiki, and, as Dilley recommends, maintain it nicely for all the folks who pass through town (the traffic is heavy).



33 Wikis: #30 -- Les Wikis -- From Book to Wiki

2006-05-03T15:32:56.456-07:00

This is the thirtieth installment in "33 Wikis," a close look at best practices in wiki-based collaboration. Each day -- for 33 days -- we look at one wiki and briefly describe what the wiki is for, why we like it, and what we all can learn from it. If you want to nominate a wiki, please let us know. On day 34 we will post a public wiki featuring info on all nominees.

What this wiki is for: Les Wikis is a bilingual wiki devoted to educating general audiences on all things wiki. With this broad focus, the wiki reads somewhat like a zine, with news, features and interviews with people in the wiki business. Still, one might ask -- how vibrant is the French wiki scene? Check this out.

Why we like it: With a version in French and another in English (the new lingua franca), Les Wikis can reach out to a broad European audience, and it appears to have done so. We are also impressed that "Les Wikis" originated as an online companion to a book ("Wikis: Zone of Collective Intelligence.") In its current, collaborative form, the project is better suited to the "Les Wikis" mission -- "tout sur les wikis."

What we all can learn from it: The evolution of this site -- from book to wiki -- might inspire others to think of ways to extend the life of a publishing project. If that means turning more books into wiki-based zines, we may someday see a new wave of innovation in publishing.



33 Wikis: #29 -- Meatball Wiki

2006-05-03T15:26:32.210-07:00

This is the twenty-ninth installment in "33 Wikis," a close look at best practices in wiki-based collaboration. Each day -- for 33 days -- we look at one wiki and briefly describe what the wiki is for, why we like it, and what we all can learn from it. If you want to nominate a wiki, please let us know. On day 34 we will post a public wiki featuring info on all nominees.

What this wiki is for: for the next four days we will be looking at meta-wikis -- i.e., wikis about wikis. Meatball Wiki, one of the most influential wikis in wikidom describes itself as a "learning community" comprised of the leaders of online communities. Their mission is to bring together all "proprietors, developers, mentors, samaritans" of wiki-based communities to share what they know and propagate a better understanding of the Wiki Way -- the philosophy of wiki-based communities first articulated by the inventor of the wiki, Ward Cunningham.

Why we like it: during my first real visit to Meatball, I fell in love. This is a treasure trove of technology, philosophy, sociology, anthropology, and common-sense wisdom of the do's and dont's of online communities. But it is even more than that. As one of the older and wiser wiki communities, Meatball has helped to introduce and evangelize BarnRaising, SoftSecurity, RealNames, NonViolence, "playful wisdom," and other concepts that are helping community leaders in both the online and offline worlds. Spend enough time on this wiki, and you will get a very stong vibe: this community is in fact dedicated to making a better world -- online and offline. It reminds me of an article we posted last year, where we put forth the idea that the online world is like the New World of the colonial era -- a breeding ground for ideas from the Old World that eventually would go back to the Old World ... but only after the New World tested them.

FYI: meatball refers to a picture of the Web as a big plate of spaghetti and meatballs, where spaghetti are the links, and meatballs are the content. This wiki is a mighty big meatball, and it has spawned all sorts of projects. But Meatball follows the principle of CommunityOverContent: in the end, it's all about relationships, and the ethic of community predominates over everything -- even the meatballs -- on Meatball.

What we all can learn from it: for what it does -- and it does a lot -- it would be hard to top Meatball. But the members of this community have been gracious enough to link to similar sites, directly from the home page. But what can we all learn from it? Recommendation: join this community, contribute to it, and learn. If you have been following this series for all 29 days to date, you actually might be ready for the experience.



33 Wikis: #28 -- DrKW -- the Wikipedia of the Enterprise

2006-05-03T15:23:13.910-07:00

This is the twenty-eighth installment in "33 Wikis," a close look at best practices in wiki-based collaboration. Each day -- for 33 days -- we look at one wiki and briefly describe what the wiki is for, why we like it, and what we all can learn from it. If you want to nominate a wiki, please let us know. On day 34 we will post a public wiki featuring info on all nominees.

What this wiki is for: Dresdner Kleinwort Wasserstein (DrKW), the international investment bank, is operating what we believe is the largest internal corporate wiki in existence. [Disclosure: Eastwick-client Socialtext provided the wiki platform]. As the Financial Times recently reported, with more than 2,000 pages edited by more than a quarter of its workforce, the DrKW wiki has traffic well exceeding the company's intranet. Employees today are using the wiki for a wide variety of activities, including training, project management, and sales support. With this wide and far-reaching agenda -- driven only by the imagination of employees -- this wiki has been dubbed the DrKWpedia, a nod to the largest wiki of all, Wikipedia.

Why we like it: The scope of this project -- and the reputation of the company -- should help to evangelize the way wikis can be used to make businesses more efficient, nimble, and creative. It helps that one of the leading proponents of the DrKW wiki is CIO JP Rangaswami. But as Socialtext-consultant Suw Charman observes, the widespread adoption of the DrKW wiki also has a lot to do with folks at lower tiers -- the "supernodes" who are so well connected and so influential among their peers.

What we all can learn from it: There are other corporate "pedias" in the works, but to date this is the leading case study. If an organization wants to explore the business benefits of launching a wiki, the public documentation of this wiki project can be a great help.
Related link: "Enterprise 2.0: The Dawn of Emergent Collaboration," by Harvard professor Andrew P. McAfee.



33 Wikis: #27 -- The SAP Apollo Wiki

2006-04-19T20:08:46.850-07:00

This is the twenty-seventh installment in "33 Wikis," a close look at best practices in wiki-based collaboration. Each day -- for 33 days -- we look at one wiki and briefly describe what the wiki is for, why we like it, and what we all can learn from it. If you want to nominate a wiki, please let us know. On day 34 we will post a public wiki featuring info on all nominees.

What this wiki is for: Jeff Nolan leads the Apollo Group, a strategy and communications org within SAP, the enterprise software giant. Nolan, one of Silicon Valley's top bloggers, is using a number of social media tools -- blogs, RSS, and of course, a wiki -- to better compete with Oracle, SAP's chief rival. The Apollo wiki is mostly used for extended project management. [Note: this is a private wiki].

Why we like it: this is one use of wiki technology that we are certain will gain wide adoption in the future. The gathering of competitive intelligence, and the management of that intelligence, are two of the most critical areas of activity for the strategy, marketing, and sales functions of an enterprise. Nolan's group has found a way to approach these activities in ways that are better suited to how employees actually work. The result? In addition to helping SAP with the overall effort to transform its culture -- and with helping the SAP in its effort to compete with Oracle -- the Apollo Wiki is eliminating the need for superfluous email, never-to-be-read status reports, and unneccessary paperwork.

What we all can learn from it: as we said above, the wiki -- in tandem with other social-media technologies -- could very well emerge as the competitive tool of the future.



33 Wikis: #26 -- The Vyatta Community Wiki

2006-04-19T20:07:36.160-07:00

This is the twenty-sixth installment in "33 Wikis," a close look at best practices in wiki-based collaboration. Each day -- for 33 days -- we look at one wiki and briefly describe what the wiki is for, why we like it, and what we all can learn from it. If you want to nominate a wiki, please let us know. On day 34 we will post a public wiki featuring info on all nominees.

What this wiki is for: Vyatta, an Eastwick client, aims to develop an open source alternative to commercial routing software (think Cisco, Juniper), and the Vyatta Community Wiki is the place where it is all happening. [For an excellent overview of the company and its mission, see Om Malik's feature in Business 2.0.] Note: four weeks after Vyatta flipped the switch on this community -- turning it from a private to public community -- membership grew by more than 2000%.

Why we like it: Yes, we are Vyatta's agency, but we believe this is a great example of how a wiki can be used for the purposes of organizing a motivated community. Like the Mozilla Developer Center, which we covered yesterday, the Vyatta Community Wiki began with a singular purpose, with a direct appeal to members of the community. It's this kind of focus that can transform an ordinary collaborative project into a mission. FYI, Vyatta means "open" in sanskrit.

What we all can learn from it: As we said above, singularity of purpose may be the biggest takeaway for general audiences. But inside the technology world, it is yet another example of the wikis are so well suited to developer projects.



33 Wikis: #25 -- Mozilla Developer Center

2006-04-19T20:06:32.213-07:00

This is the twenty-fifth installment in "33 Wikis," a close look at best practices in wiki-based collaboration. Each day -- for 33 days -- we look at one wiki and briefly describe what the wiki is for, why we like it, and what we all can learn from it. If you want to nominate a wiki, please let us know. On day 34 we will post a public wiki featuring info on all nominees.

What this wiki is for: Today and tomorrow, we will look at two wikis for software developers. Our pick today is the Mozilla Developer Center which serves as "a central nexus for all developer documentation related to the Mozilla Project and Mozilla technologies. In time, it is hoped that the Mozilla Developer Center will become a resource that web designers, application developers, and extension and theme writers visit on a daily basis." For those of you outside the technology world, Mozilla is the open source project that organized the creation of the popular Firefox browser.

Why we like it: This is an example of a medium (a wiki) almost perfectly suited to the demographic (developer) and purpose (the creation of an open source alternative) of a community. The development of any open source service or product requires a select but sizeable developer community, and the wiki --- a tool that many developers understand -- is a great environment for building such a community. It also helps that wikis function in an open source manner -- tapping the collective wisdom and contributions of the many.

What we all can learn from it: There are a number of developer communities like this; tomorrow we will look at another. But the visibility of the Mozilla Project should help publicize the viability of this approach among many other software companies that are looking for purposeful ways to engage with developers in their markets.



33 Wikis -- #24 -- SmallBusiness.com -- Experts in Charge

2006-04-19T20:05:06.756-07:00

This is the twenty-fourth installment in "33 Wikis," a close look at best practices in wiki-based collaboration. Each day -- for 33 days -- we look at one wiki and briefly describe what the wiki is for, why we like it, and what we all can learn from it. If you want to nominate a wiki, please let us know. On day 34 we will post a public wiki featuring info on all nominees.

What this wiki is for: OK, if you are through working on the Millenium Problems and need to get back to business -- a small business -- then this might be the wiki for you. The elegantly and simply-named Smallbusiness.com provides a "variety of services and resources being created every day by a community of small business owners and managers sharing their personal knowledge about starting and running a small business."

Why we like it: Great name, great look (dead simple), and a great number of resources (volume is sometimes important). There are a number of commercial sites that target the huge and amorphous small-business market, but this is the only site doing this in a truly collaborative fashion. The value to this approach? As a partner at an independent PR agency, I can tell you: there's no substitute for knowledge that comes from people who have actually "been there, done that." This site taps the collective wisdom of an expert group and serves up useful, practical information in areas such as law, management, finance, marketing, HR, state-by-state resources, and much more.

What we all can learn from it: Smallbusiness.com does a lot of things well, but its biggest gift to the community is a lesson on expert-based services. In some market segments -- and this is one of them -- the most sought-after expert is the practitioner. We'll post a few other examples of this kind of service when we conclude the "33 Wikis" project.



33 Wikis: #23 -- The QEDen "Millenium Problems" Project -- the seven million dollar wiki

2006-04-15T22:49:31.446-07:00

This is the twenty-third installment in "33 Wikis," a close look at best practices in wiki-based collaboration. Each day -- for 33 days -- we look at one wiki and briefly describe what the wiki is for, why we like it, and what we all can learn from it. If you want to nominate a wiki, please let us know. On day 34 we will post a public wiki featuring info on all nominees.We thank the folks at Slashdot for introducing us to today's wiki.What this wiki is about: We interrupt our coverage on business wikis (we began our run just yesterday) to tell you about a wiki that means business. A group called QEDen has launched a wiki that hopes to solve the notorious Millenium Problems, which the Clay Mathematics Institute calls "classic questions that have resisted solution over the years." The Institute has promised a $1 million dollar reward for the solution to each problem. The QEDen wiki hopes to accelerate the problem solving by "assembling an army of nerds."Why we like it: Whether or not you think this project is naive (more than a few folks at Slashdot think so), the QEDen wiki is one of the most radical expressions of "wisdom of crowds" that we've seen throughout this entire survey. And we like that the organizers are looking at the big picture, beyond the Millenium Problems. "QEDen is looking to change the very nature of mathematical and scientific research. Internet collaboration has been used to successfully build state of the art products ranging from software to encyclopedias. Why not see if it can be used to advance human knowledge?" Oh, and if you're wondering about how QEDen is planning to divvy up the bounty -- they're not. If a member of the community solves the problem, he or she gets to keep the whole thing. "QEDen itself will not try to lay any claim to the prize money (although a generous donation from the winner back to the community would certainly be in good taste.)"What we all can learn from it: Again, this is "wisdom of crowds" in the extreme, and we will be very curious to see how the project progresses. For now, it should encourage other groups or organizations who might benefit from the use of a wiki environment for problem solving. A short while back, it was becoming fashionable for businesses to invite students and inventors to submit their best ideas, with the faint promise that a winning notion might result in a substantial reward. Why would a business do this? It can save a lot of money in R&D, and the pool of talent, theoretically, is limitless. The QEDen project suggests that there's an easy tool for organizing experiments like this.[...]



33 Wikis: #22 -- Lucky Number Slevin Wiki -- Managing the Administrative Beast

2006-04-14T21:58:27.366-07:00

This is the twenty-second installment in "33 Wikis," a close look at best practices in wiki-based collaboration. Each day -- for 33 days -- we look at one wiki and briefly describe what the wiki is for, why we like it, and what we all can learn from it. If you want to nominate a wiki, please let us know. On day 34 we will post a public wiki featuring info on all nominees.

What this wiki is for: As Heather Green at BusinessWeek recently noted, the producers for the film "Lucky Number Slevin" used a wiki to track production and financing. I wish we could show you the wiki, but this one is private.

Why we like it: Well, as a former independent theater producer, I can tell you: managing production and budget can be an awful burden because there are so many players, so many moving pieces, and so many potential crises. I haven't seen the Slevin wiki, but if it made life easier for the producers I am impressed.

What we all can learn from it: There are many collaborative tasks in the business world that can be better managed on a wiki. If you have a project that generally requires updates and signoffs from multiple people, at multiple locations, we strongly recommend you go the wiki way.



33 Wikis: #21 -- WikixBox360 -- Another kind of Product Wiki

2006-04-13T16:27:58.890-07:00

This is the twenty-first installment in "33 Wikis," a close look at best practices in wiki-based collaboration. Each day -- for 33 days -- we look at one wiki and briefly describe what the wiki is for, why we like it, and what we all can learn from it. If you want to nominate a wiki, please let us know. On day 34 we will post a public wiki featuring info on all nominees.

What this wiki is about: wikiXbox360 is a collaborative site for fans of the Xbox platform. From the about page: "wikiXbox360 brings together gamers who share a passion for gaming and the Xbox 360. This site is a communal dashboard that enables like-minded gamers to connect, share, and build a knowledge base from their individual experiences, expertise, and perspectives -- a community by gamers for gamers."

What we like about it: We spoke a few days ago about ProductWiki, the first wiki-based product catalog. wikiXbox360 points the way where many product manufacturers may go: the creation of their own product communities, driven largely by the passion of their fans. The look-and-feel, and special features -- like "watch this page" -- seem to suit the audience.

What we all can learn from it: As we said above, wikiXbox360 might pave the way for other product-fan sites. The big question: do you have a product that has a community of users/fans who care so much that they need to speak with one another? There have got to be lots of companies who'd answer yes to that question -- for a few examples, take a look at the excellent Brand Hijack, by Alex Wipperfurth. Another takeaway: the snazzy look and special features demonstrate the adaptability of wikis (a theme that has been building in this series over the last few days). That will matter to companies who are focused on their brands, even those that are willing to allow their customers to create their brands (again, see Brand Hijack).



33 Wikis: # 20 -- The TV IV -- Survival by Wiki

2006-04-12T19:10:29.416-07:00

This is the twentieth installment in "33 Wikis," a close look at best practices in wiki-based collaboration. Each day -- for 33 days -- we look at one wiki and briefly describe what the wiki is for, why we like it, and what we all can learn from it. If you want to nominate a wiki, please let us know. On day 34 we will post a public wiki featuring info on all nominees.What this wiki is about: Yesterday we asked you to sit in an armchair, and to consider the possibilities for leveraging your sports addiction on a wiki. You can stay in that armchair, because today we want to tell you about an opportunity for all TV lovers: The TV IV, the most complete collaborative Web site dedicated to our favorite medium (evidence of our feelings here and here). From the "about" page: "The TV IV seeks to give you current, up-to-date information on your favorite shows, both current and old. This is an open encyclopedia of television shows, which means that anyone can edit the information at will. We urge you to go to your favorite television show and help contribute, as this website can only grow with your contributions. The TV IV aims to include information about every television show and is not limited to American or British television. "Why we like it: Where else can you go to get the Fall network schedule for 1963, and correct it if it is wrong? And The TV IV caters not only to nostalgia but also any variety of contemporary programming. The only requirement is that you care so much about your shows that you'd want to visit this site and perhaps contribute to it. There's got to be a pretty big audience. At last count, this wiki logged 73, 148 articles. But what we really like about this wiki is that it's a survivor (pun intended). It has a rather complex history: In the summer of 2005, TV Tome became TV.com following its buyout by CNET. Several people who frequent The TV IV forum in the Something Awful Forums were unhappy about that. The new site was filled with Flash and ads, and some of the content from TV Tome was missing. It was decided that, like The Six Million Dollar Man, "we can rebuild him," er, I mean, it. The TV IV wiki was born.By the way, don't feel bad if you love TV so much that you'd want to write about it. Steven Johnson says TV is good for us. We agree, though we wish there were fewer commercials (we're working on that). What we all can learn from it: This is another great fan site -- but for all fans of an entire medium, not just a specific artist, entertainer, or work. But there's a bigger lesson here: to repeat what we said above, the fact that this project has survived by changing its format (from static Web site to vibrant wiki) is impressive. If your Web site is failing, ask if there's an easy way to make it more interactive.[...]



33 Wikis: # 19 -- ArmchairGM -- Channeling Your Inner Oscar Madison

2006-04-11T16:35:36.550-07:00

This is the nineteenth installment in "33 Wikis," a close look at best practices in wiki-based collaboration. Each day -- for 33 days -- we look at one wiki and briefly describe what the wiki is for, why we like it, and what we all can learn from it. If you want to nominate a wiki, please let us know. On day 34 we will post a public wiki featuring info on all nominees.

What this wiki is for: ArmchairGM is a collaborative site for sports enthusiasts who believe that blogging is not enough. From the "about" page: "Most fans don't have the time to commit to running a blog nor the inclination to promote, design, and manage it, and these are the minimums needed for an effective web presence. You have to write well, write often, promote yourself, have an effective and pleasing aesthetic, and manage criticism and technical difficulties well. And you have to do this constantly: It takes a long, long time to build a readership. But it takes only a few days of idleness and disrepair (or one day of idiocy!) for it to crumble."

Why we like it: All good wikis have motivated, opinionated communities. We can think of no community as opinionated and as motivated -- e.g., to share their opinions -- than the millions of armchair coaches, general managers, and would-be Oscar Madisons of this world. This new site -- with has logged close to half a million page views in less than two months -- enables sports fans to post news, opinions, and, of course comments. Because it's a wiki, almost anything can be edited. You can't edit comments, of course; and we wonder how participants will feel that their opinions -- as opposed to news -- can be edited. But what we like most about this site is the Digg-like "voting" feature which determines the rank of an article based on reader ratings.

What we all can learn from it: Two things: first, the voting feature is something that we expect many other media sites -- traditional media and new media -- to follow. Not only does this democratize the process of placing stories -- an approach that communities respect -- but it also makes good business sense (think of the implications for advertising). But another lesson for all: there are other worlds where fans enjoy talking/arguing with each other at least as much as they enjoy talking/arguing with professional commentators. There are other markets for this kind of approach.



33 Wikis: #18 -- ProductWiki

2006-04-10T17:32:01.110-07:00

This is the eighteenth installment in "33 Wikis," a close look at best practices in wiki-based collaboration. Each day -- for 33 days -- we look at one wiki and briefly describe what the wiki is for, why we like it, and what we all can learn from it. If you want to nominate a wiki, please let us know. On day 34 we will post a public wiki featuring info on all nominees.

What this wiki is for: The first product catalog powered by wiki technology, ProductWiki is "a community of people sharing their knowledge and experience about the consumer products and services."

Why we like it: Three Canadian engineers (Amanie Ismail, Omar Ismail, and Erik Kalviainen) found inspiration in Wikipedia to build their own platform, and one that's tailored to meet the demands of a robust online catalog. The result is a well-designed, ad-supported, one-of-a-kind service that's targeting a very large and competitive market sector (by the way, ProductWiki is in no way affiliated with an Amazon project with a similar name). One critic recently noted that ProductWiki it does not differ in any significant way services like Epinions, except for the dubious capability that it offers its users to edit the contributions of others. Our take: the risks are greater, but the open-edit capability is a good differentiator for ProductWiki, which has the agenda of "keeping the information honest." We also like the look and feel of the site -- clean, elegant, functional, with a few light Web 2.0-ish features built in.

What we all can learn from it: We believe that ProductWiki points the way that many consumer-facing sites will go, integrating wiki technology into their services. While the DIY nature of pre-built wiki platforms will continue to appeal to most people, a number of businesses will build their own tools, or -- as the emerging Amazon wiki story foretells -- build wiki technology into current Web-based offerings.



33 Wikis: #17 -- Wikitravel -- A Trusted Community for "Consumers Like You"

2006-04-10T17:30:54.713-07:00

This is the seventeenth installment in "33 Wikis," a close look at best practices in wiki-based collaboration. Each day -- for 33 days -- we look at one wiki and briefly describe what the wiki is for, why we like it, and what we all can learn from it. If you want to nominate a wiki, please let us know. On day 34 we will post a public wiki featuring info on all nominees.What this wiki is for: We are shifting our focus these next few days to consumer sites, beginning with a collaborative project called Wikitravel. From the home page: "Wikitravel is a project to create a free, complete, up-to-date and reliable world-wide travel guide. So far we have 8,293 destination guides and other articles written and edited by Wikitravellers from around the globe."What we like about it: When I was younger -- and far more restless, but far less able financially -- I depended on budget travel guides to help me plan and navigate trips to Europe. My favorite was the Let's Go series, which were written mostly for people generally like me: recent college grads, budget-conscious, and open to a more-than-occasional detour -- a relaxed if superior attitude that viewed traditional travel guides as silly, irrelevant, and, most important, untrustworthy. In short, the Let's Go series played well to a large population of consumers who shared a common ethos -- "smart and adventurous travel ... on a shoestring." The community was very loosely defined, but it was real enough and big enough that it worked. The world of travel has changed a lot since those days, in large part because the first Let's Go generations have grown up (looking back on old itineraries, many of us are saying "let's not"). But even younger travelers today are a lot more sophisticated. Along comes Wikitravel, a collaborative site that seems well-suited to the needs of any informed traveler, young or old, rich or poor ... provided you accept the new ethos: that the new community of travelers -- Wikitravellers -- can all get smarter by sharing what they know. In a sense, this site does for smart travelers today what Let's Go first did for young travelers a few generations ago -- make the world a little smaller by bringing together like-minded people. It reminds us of the Edelman Trust Barometer -- we tend to trust people who are most like us. In the world of travel guides -- there are so many -- Wikitravel may have found a great way for like-minded people to share info on all sorts of topics, including traveling with families, info on airfare, hotels, itineraries, dining, health, and safety. What we all can learn from it: This is another example of how a distributed, volunteer online community might do a better job than a publisher in documenting the intricacies of a complex market. But the "trust" factor (discussed above) is another big takeaway. Private and public organizations can learn a lot from this wiki, which demonstrates the role that trusted communities can play in helping consumers make important decisions.Also worth noting: Can I Crash?, a wiki service that "lets you lend your sofa to travelling bloggers." Talk about trust.[...]



33 Wikis: # 16 -- The Tax Almanac

2006-04-09T09:36:21.933-07:00

This is the sixteenth installment in "33 Wikis," a close look at best practices in wiki-based collaboration. Each day -- for 33 days -- we look at one wiki and briefly describe what the wiki is for, why we like it, and what we all can learn from it. If you want to nominate a wiki, please let us know. On day 34 we will post a public wiki featuring info on all nominees.

What this wiki is for: Finally, a wiki that even my mother would like. I'm serious -- my mother prepares taxes for consultants and small businesses. The Tax Almanac is "a free tax research resource brought to you by Intuit, the makers of the professional tax preparation products Lacerte and ProSeries .... Our goal is to transform tax research and to improve the effectiveness of tax professionals everywhere."

Why we like it: There are so many reasons we like this wiki, starting with the corporate sponsorship. As we note above, this is a project "brought to you by Intuit," the maker of many tax and accounting software products. The Tax Almanac is a smart use of a collaborative environment where everyone can benefit -- the professional community and the corporate sponsor alike -- while the burden of developing and maintaining the wiki is distributed. Second, this is a very good resource that taps the wisdom of a very sophisticated crowd that live and work across the country. And it's a nicely designed (organized) wiki, making it easier for participants to find what they need and contribute.

What we all can learn from it: Tax is clearly a subject where the wisdom of the crowd beats the intelligence of the individual. But perhaps the biggest takeaway is the nature of the corporate sponsorship, which not only keeps Intuit close to its customers -- in this case, professional consumers of its tax and accounting products -- but also helps with visibility and brand (BusinessWeek recently named The Tax Almanac a "pacesetter" in collaboration). But also note: you'll have a hard time finding the word wiki on the home page (scroll down ... way down). We love the word wiki, but we may need other words as the tool continues to migrate from the world of developers and to the bigger world of non-techy professionals and consumers (hi, Mom).



33 Wikis -- #15 -- The Library Success Wiki -- Wikis for Professional Development

2006-04-07T13:16:33.943-07:00

This is the fifteenth installment in "33 Wikis," a close look at best practices in wiki-based collaboration. Each day -- for 33 days -- we look at one wiki and briefly describe what the wiki is for, why we like it, and what we all can learn from it. If you want to nominate a wiki, please let us know. On day 34 we will post a public wiki featuring info on all nominees.

What this wiki is for: This week we looked at wikis for politics, and wikis for education. Big theme all week has been information, and today we turn to folks in the information sciences, namely librarians. One of the best specimens in this category is a wiki called Library Success that bills itself as follows: “… one-stop-shop for great ideas and information for all types of librarians. All over the world, librarians are developing successful programs and doing innovative things with technology that no one outside of their library knows about. There are lots of great blogs out there sharing information about the profession, but there is no one place where all of this information is collected and organized.”

Why we like it: Created by Meredith Farkas, a librarian in Vermont, the Library Success wiki serves as a collaborative site for librarians all over the world. As with many other professions, the teaching and practice of library sciences varies widely state to state and country to country. This wiki serves to raise the standard across all territories, with information on best practices in technology, training, programming, professional ethics, and other topics.

What we all can learn from it: the wiki as steward to a profession holds a lot of promise, and we believe that the Library Success wiki is a great example. We expect other professions to build out collaborative environments for their own folks, but as is true of all wikis, it takes the energy and dedication of an evangelist and gardener (in this case Farkas) to get anything meaningful going.



33 Wikis: #14 -- The Science of Spectroscopy Wiki -- The Long-Tail of Education

2006-04-07T13:11:49.146-07:00

This is the fourteenth installment in "33 Wikis," a close look at best practices in wiki-based collaboration. Each day -- for 33 days -- we look at one wiki and briefly describe what the wiki is for, why we like it, and what we all can learn from it. If you want to nominate a wiki, please let us know. On day 34 we will post a public wiki featuring info on all nominees.

What this wiki is for: The Science of Spectroscopy Wiki is a collaborative site for the teaching of spectroscopy to university-level and advanced high-school students. Definition (Wikipedia): "Spectroscopy is the study of spectra, that is, the dependence of physical quantities on frequency." It is often used in physical and analytical chemistry, and astronomy.

Why we like it: The evangelist and gardener of this wiki is Stewart Mader, an instructional technologist in math and sciences at Brown University. As we learned in a recent comment, Mader and his cohorts have created an environment that enables students "to learn about spectroscopy using a model that starts with real-world applications, gets them engaged and asking 'how does it work?' and then teaches techniques and theory." What we really like about this wiki is how it has attracted a global community of collaborators -- scientists, teachers and students -- to work on group projects. In effect, the wiki has created a global classroom.

What we all can learn from it: Just as wikis are enabling people to go beyond organizational boundaries, they can also enable groups to recruit the best participants across geographic boundaries. And while spectroscopy may constitute a small neighborhood in the larger world of education, the contribution that the wiki has made to the teaching of this subject might inspire folks from other fields to do the same. We will soon tire of using the phrase "long tail," but it is very appropriate here. Niche matters, and Internet tools can help people to find one another. [Note: Tomorrow, Mader will present a paper on the wiki, at the excellent HigherEd BlogCon.]



33 Wikis: #13 -- The Westwood Wiki -- Wikis in the Schools

2006-04-06T09:21:37.903-07:00

This is the thirteenth installment in "33 Wikis," a close look at best practices in wiki-based collaboration. Each day -- for 33 days -- we look at one wiki and briefly describe what the wiki is for, why we like it, and what we all can learn from it. If you want to nominate a wiki, please let us know. On day 34 we will post a public wiki featuring info on all nominees.

What this wiki is for: The Westwood Wiki is a collaborative workspace for the Westwood Schools (K-12) in Camilla, Georgia. The gardener and evangelist is computer science teacher Vicki A. Davis, AKA "Cool Cat Teacher." Davis and her students have created an highly interactive, vibrant workspace that supplement several parts of the Westwood curricula.

Why we like it: Wikis are getting lots of interest in the schools because the benefits of peer production and participation are becoming better known. But to really get a wiki going like Westwood has, you need an evangelist with Davis' stamina and character. She's encouraged her students to not only use the wiki, but to immerse themselves in all things Web 2.0. As a result, this is a pretty sophisticated site, with a few unexpected treats (check out the 4th grade podcast -- a big cute yes, but still impressive). We also like that Davis has shared so much about her experience. Her notes on the wiki and in her blog will help other teachers navigate their own entry into the world of tech-supported education.

What we all can learn from it: Like all the wikis in this series, the Westwood Wiki has lessons for people in markets outside its own. The way wikis encourage and reward collaboration and production should be of interest to any organization that has the mandate of developing its constituents, especially organizations -- commercial and public -- that have been forced to do more with less.



33 Wikis: #12 -- The ICANN Wiki -- Behold, The Event Wiki

2006-04-04T22:35:47.440-07:00

This is the tweflth installment in "33 Wikis," a close look at best practices in wiki-based collaboration. Each day -- for 33 days -- we look at one wiki and briefly describe what the wiki is for, why we like it, and what we all can learn from it. If you want to nominate a wiki, please let us know. On day 34 we will post a public wiki featuring info on all nominees.

What this wiki is for: The ICANN Wiki is a collaborative site for people who take part in conferences for ICANN, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers. Wikipedia says this about ICANN: "Headquartered in Marina Del Rey, ICANN is a California non-profit corporation that was created on September 18, 1998 in order to oversee a number of Internet-related tasks previously performed directly on behalf of the U.S. Government by other organizations, notably IANA." Not clear? In short, ICANN is one of the premier -- if not the premier -- organizations on Internet policy.

Why we like it: Creative, funny, and hyperactive, the ICANN wiki will emerge as a model collaborative site for any organization seeking to leverage the community that supports its events. But like many good event wikis, this wiki does not belong to the organization, ICANN, but to the ICANN community. Going well beyond what any organization can do alone, this wiki enables conference participants to share notes, plan get-togethers, meet people, and much more. And did we mention that the site is funny? We love how many of the participants are featured in photos and caricatures (click on the image to the left).

What we all can learn from it: Event wikis are gaining traction in the technology world, and we expect they will go mainstream very soon. There are so many benefits for participants. And organizers too are learning that a wiki is a great way to support participants, who often attend conferences for reasons only they know. Check out, for example, the official Web 2.0 2005 wiki, which helped attendees to organize several successful after-hour events.