Wikis & Blogs: Collaborate and Animate

What is a Wiki??

Wiki is a Hawaiian word that means fast. The first wiki (WikiWikiWeb) was launched in 1995 by Ward Cunningham, who defined it as The simplest online database that could possibly work. You can have a look at it here
Wikipedia offers a clear definition of a wiki: A wiki is a website designed to allow multiple authors to add, remove, and edit content. The multiple author capability of wikis makes them effective tools for mass collaborative authoring. Wikipedia, an online encyclopedia, is one of the best known wikis. Watch this... goes on to say that Wiki is a piece of server software that allows users to freely create and edit Web page content using any Web browser. Wiki supports hyperlinks and has a simple text syntax for creating new pages and crosslinks between internal pages on the fly. Wiki is unusual among group communication mechanisms in that it allows the organization of contributions to be edited in addition to the content itself.
Wikis are used by individuals, organizations and collaborations of all sizes to create, link, edit and archive their projects. We will look more deeply into the features and potential of wikis in this site.
But first watch Wikis in Plain English produced by Common Craft, the people who brought you RSS in Plain English.

What is a Blog?

From Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. A blog (a portmanteau of web log) is a website where entries are written in chronological order and commonly displayed in reverse chronological order. "Blog" can also be used as a verb, meaning to maintain or add content to a blog.
Many blogs provide commentary or news on a particular subject; others function as more personal online diaries. A typical blog combines text, images, and links to other blogs, web pages, and other media related to its topic. The ability for readers to leave comments in an interactive format is an important part of many blogs. Most blogs are primarily textual, although some focus on art (artlog), photographs (photoblog), sketchblog, videos (vlog), music (MP3 blog), audio (podcasting) and are part of a wider network of social media. Micro-blogging is another type of blogging which consists of blogs with very short posts.

Purpose of This Wiki

This wiki is part of the Center for Media & Democracy wiki world. We created it for a Media Maven Luncheon in Spring 2007.
What is the purpose of this wiki?

  • To produce an external wiki about the history of CCTV and Channel 17 (that would be fun for people to add to, and other purposes that we have not thought of yet.</i>
  • To teach nonprofit organizations about wikis, using this as a working example.


Overview Page

With an overview (which this is) page you can provide several views on a certain wiki page and give the user an overview on everything that is in the wiki and covers a certain subject. It is helpful to explain:

<!-- /** * GeSHi (C) 2004 - 2007 Nigel McNie, 2007 - 2008 Benny Baumann * ( and */ .text {font-family:monospace;} .text .imp {font-weight: bold; color: red;} .text span.xtra { display:block; } --> * what your wiki is for (e.g. product documentation, project management etc)
* what space / webs it might contain
* what should be documented there.
* your wiki culture, e.g. everybody shall criticise but should also be able to be criticised.
* give hints how to start e.g. editing in the sandbox or filling out the user profile.
* provide links to additional help to your wiki (editing...). [[|Reference]]

Wiki Charter

Guidelines for General Use at CCTV

A Wiki Charter is a document that sets guidelines for community collaboration and respectful, productive activity on the wiki. The charter should be created at the start of a new wiki so that new members have the benefit of community guidelines as soon as they begin to collaborate. Wiki Charter Watch here for a great summary of how to work with other people on a wiki.
For a look at wiki guidelines from Stamford. Wikipedias guidelines pertain to a particular kind of knowledge but their standards of etiquette are worth noting:
<!-- /** * GeSHi (C) 2004 - 2007 Nigel McNie, 2007 - 2008 Benny Baumann * ( and */ .text {font-family:monospace;} .text .imp {font-weight: bold; color: red;} .text span.xtra { display:block; } --> 1. Wikipedia works by building consensus.
2. Wikipedia is an encyclopedia.
3. Respect other contributors.
4. Respect copyrights.
5. Avoid bias.
6. Add only information based on reliable sources.

All About Wikis

What you need to know

There is a worldwide community of people who create and champion wikis. Over the past decade, they have developed a body of practice and knowledge which is available to anyone who wants to experiment (in a sandbox) or set up a wiki for a collaborative project.
You will find key elements summarized in this article How Nonprofits can Use Wikis to Build Communities at Minimal Cost. It is important to note that we draw heavily on Beth Kanter's educational work on nonprofit uses of wikis.
Pros & Cons of Wikis
Thanks to Sean Forman for this list of pros and cons.
Wiki Strengths

  • Very easy page and structure creation.
  • Each contributes as able.
  • Gives free rein to go-getters.
  • Formation is evolutionary.</nowiki>

Wiki Gotchas

  • Graffiti happens.
  • Infringement happens.
  • Gardening is required.
  • Who owns what?
  • Not a discussion forum.
  • Difficult to impart a chronology on documents.
  • Not a magazine type CMS.
  • Formation is evolutionary.


How Wikis are Used
Wikis are used to organize projects, present information, create a knowledge base that can be added to by members of a group.
There is no 'right' way to use a wiki. The fantastic thing about wikis, and the reason they have been so successful, is that they are built from the ground up by the people who use them. That way, the structure of a wiki, and how it is used, comes to mirror how the people using the wiki want to structure it, how they want to use it.
That said, there are patterns of use that are instructive when we want to set up our own online wiki community. Spend some time at WikiPatterns.
An entertaining and pointed usage of a wiki to organize a camping trip, produced by Common Craft, can be viewed here. A good exercise for seeing a wiki in action, "The Joy of Wiki" can be found here.
Usage in Grammatical Sense
Wikis are based on a tree structure--a hierarchy of information--that can be randomly accessed. Information on a wiki is organized using html code. Most wiki services provide a WISYWG editor to make this less technical. While that may be the case, it will prove immensely helpful to be familiar with how to add metadata to your text so that it is classified and linked correctly.
While "people say" that wikis are "easy to use", there are two sets of tools that will make it possible for you to take advantage of the organizing power of wiki: linking and wikitext.
When organizing wiki entries, Wiki Patterns suggests that we consider the "a three part rule", expressing the relation between a certain context, a problem, and a solution. Practically speaking, we should answer the questions:

  1. What is it?
  2. Usage
  3. Examples
  4. Further Reading

We tried to do that here....


Wikis come in many flavors. Wikipedia uses the wikisoftware to collate a global compendium of knowledge. Teachers and presenters now use the noun "wikitation" to refer to a wikibased presentation. Organizations use wikis to collaborate on projects. They are rapidly replacing email with the on-line conference table to document and collect their work. (Business Week has a good article on this here). Other organizations, such as the Walker Arts Center use wikis simply to organize their program activities in an intuitive way. People can collaborate across organizations and develop a body of knowledge and share it broadly--such as the nonprofit web 2.0 community or Community Wiki. A classic example of a basic wiki is found at the wiki clock.
Another good example is CVAA's wiki which is for internal use of case managers.
Other uses for wikispaces: collaborating on legal documents, streamline multiple source of revision/ draft, across organization project partners (results, monitoring papers), provide information that is consitently requested and put it in one place. Also good for any organization that does not have a shared file network and habitate different geographies. Also, a way to put together a collaborative newsletter!!!

Further Reading

Beth Kanter's wiki blog.
The Transhumanist User Page Design.
Wikis as Topic Maps
Compare Wiki Software
Wiki Matrix

Featured Story

Job Posting: Video Support Engineer at CCTV/Channel 17/ Town Meeting Television

CCTV is looking for a creative problem solver with hands on experience in video engineering and desk top support to provide technical services to CCTV & Town Meeting Television. The Video Engineer works with the Systems Engineer to run our current multi-media operations and deliver local public affairs media in a post-cable world. The successful candidate will have strong skills and experience managing business information technology functions including some MySQL/MariaDB database administration, financial systems, CRM, desktop support, website CMS troubleshooting and maintenance, Google Apps administration, telephone and video conferencing.


More News from the Center for Media and Democracy