What are wikis good for?

Posted by  Andrew Rixon —November 24, 2005
Filed in Anecdotes

A few months ago, as an experiment, Shawn, Mark and I attempted using a Wiki as a way to work collaboratively on a paper. What we found however was that the Wiki format forced us down a much too linear way of thinking essentially stifling our creative juices. Even though a paper is finally presented in (hopefully) a logical coherent format, the process and thinking which creates it is far from logical or coherent.

Garr Reynolds of presentation zen makes a great point regarding how we involve technology in our creative processes.

The planning stage should be the time when our minds are clearest and all barriers removed. I love technology, and I think slideware can be very effective in many situations. But for planning, I say “go analog” — paper and pen, white boards, a note pad in your pocket as you take a walk down the beach with your dog…whatever works for you.

It seems to me that maybe wikis are best used for programs and procedures type work. That is work where there are descriptions and definitions that can benefit from a collaborative approach. And of course, let’s not forget the power of the people. As Steve Rubel has pointed out, the Wikipedia has become the first open citizen-powered site to get into the top 10 news sites on the web…

About  Andrew Rixon


  1. Denham says:

    This is very different to my experience over the past 8 years with wikis. For me a wiki is liberating, it allows collaborators to interact at the text level rather than append annotations, passing files back and forth and sifting through document versions and heavy markup.
    Applying refactoring and annealing helps improve syntax, structure, spelling and sentence construction, integrates views and opinion and takes collaborative writing to a new and enhanced level.
    I wonder if you outcome would have been different if there were more partners with longer wiki experience onboard ??

  2. binds says:

    well wikis are better than many other means like blogs etc to share information, but the bad thing about the wikis is they do stifle somewhat if you are trying to be creative. A paper is a paer, you can tear it throw it, share it, file it. But wikis – well it takes time to get to the next page on a computer. The layeout of the computer is the worse thing that limits wikis and blogs.

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