Fear of Wikis may grow after Wikileaks

Have you ever edited a Wiki, let alone created one? It’s a lot of work at the front end to start one. I used to create small wikis on WetPaint for projects just to let a handful of people collaborate, since it eliminates the back-and-forth emails, and the friction that may arise about editing rights to a document.

But each time I recommend creating a wiki, I see a lot of blank stares; eyes begin to roll. No surprise. After all, it still involves understanding a bit of code, and is not as sexy as say a blog platform. But I suspect that the fear-and-loathing factor will now come into play, with the latest round of Wikileaks.

The media covers it more as a cat-and-mouse game with Julian Asange on the run. The Wikileaks.info site itself has been under attack appareantly, and is being mirrored elsewhere.

The site carries this line, “Have documents the world needs to see?” which is all about contributing and sharing. Wikipedia, whose central tenet is centered around sharing (“People of all ages, cultures and backgrounds can add or edit article prose, references, images and other media here.” ) is all about creating information that people may need to access.

There are other Wikis worth taking a look at, if only to diffuse the anxiety about sharing documents online.

  • Take Open Congress. It claims to be “an online encyclopedia about Congress, but more than that, it’s built entirely by readers like yourself. You can write about the importance of a particular vote on a critical piece of legislation, or document your senator’s position on issues like foreign policy, taxation and the environment.”
  • There are Education Wikis like this, created by Librarians, Charter schools, drama teachers. There are platforms such as Knol, and Open Education Wiki.

And I am only scratching the surface of how wide and deep Wiki use is. I just hope, once the WikiLeaks rumpus blows over, we will see a lot more valuable work on wikis.

Should IABC build a Communications wiki?

Google may be capable of finding most of what we want, but it’s still a search tool not a repository. There’s a difference. One’s a magnifying glass. The other is a vessel.

Links get broken as documents are moved, and the most updated version of a person’s presentation may still reside on a flash drive, not her web site.

That’s why I floated the idea of an IABC wiki, to help members and even non-members find communications-related content. I like to hear what you think, even if you are not connected with IABC.

On a related note:

  • Doctors have a wiki, too. It’s a work in progress, as a wiki should be. You can look up ‘autoimmune pancreatis’ but there’s nothing on ‘astigmatism.”
  • The U.S. Intelligence community started one in 2006, called Intellipedia. It is a walled garden for ‘authenticated’ users.

Your Knol. Your Voice. Your ad supported wiki

Google’s joined the race to create the perfect wiki, with Knol.

And just like Wikipedia, and Britannica, it’s introducing a few new ways to create content.

There is ‘moderated collaboration,’ for instance. Which sounds a lot like the concept behind the edit pages of Wikipedia. probably less edit wars, since the author has to approve the changes for them to go live. Brave authors could however permit edits without approval. The really daring ones will be able to link their entries with advertising to earn some income via AdSense. I can see that feature alone quickly tarnish the value of this wiki as marketers rush in.

Maybe this is Google2 — a move to create a parallel search engine that pretends to be a wiki.

Check the wiki-slayer here.

Wikipedia, now in Search

As the news breaks that Encyclopedia Britannica is moving into a Wiki platform (over and beyond WebShare) Wikipedia is now taking aim at search, with Wikia Search.

Resting on four words, Transparency, Community, Quality and Privacy, it’s a very different experience. There’s an odd but enticing feature –in the area where you expect to see paid ads– that allows you to add a URL to the search results. Results are not very accurate, but these are early days.

Wikia Search lets you register a “social profile” adding the social network ingredient to search. “Search requires a strong social and community focus,” they say, and they are building it through collaboration –much like Wikipedia. Worth watching.

Technologies I’ll be watching

What’s a “cross browser?” Heard of Wikiversity? How would you operate a virtual office?

For my technology coverage this year I plan to pay some attention to Microsoft Silverlight, or what they refer as to the next generation media experience using a cross browser. Wikiversity, by the folks who gave us Wikimedia bears watching for anyone involved in education and knowledge management.

The virtual office is coming of age. Zoho offers online-offline virtual office features that make Google docs (something I have used a lot) look quite tame. Zohomail has multi language support, apart from calendaring, groupspace etc.

7 things in 2007 that changed the way I think

This year was a game changer. I got to work alongside some extremely creative people, on projects that involved new media, old media, networking, and lots of social media learning. The highlights:

  1. Attended a one-day AMA Phoenix workshop on mobile marketing.
  2. Started using Wikis for project management, article interviews, what-if projects, a rich-media resume, etc.
  3. Rediscovered the value of online surveys as due diligence for strat planning, marketing, and a tool for tapping into emerging trends.
  4. Attended the IABC International conference in New Orleans.
  5. Visited Pike Place Market in Seattle, Washington. A multi-sensory offline marketing eye-opener!
  6. Added Facebook and MyRagan to my social networks, that connect the dots between professional colleagues, knowledge, and work.
  7. Read Wikinomics. I couldn’t give a glib one-line explanation here about this amazing book.