Thursday, 20 March 2008


There've been a couple of things to do with Wikis as a knowledge base that have made me think quite carefully. For example, in 2005, Rafaeli, Hayat and Ariel wrote that: 'Wikis should be most effective in gratifying users' "Knowledge Needs" for ad-hoc problems with decentralized knowledge sources.' As I touched on last week I had previously been focussing perhaps too much on the BPMA Wiki as simply a space for users to create content, without considering the collaborative benefits. It strikes me that for Wikis to be used to their full potential, they should be used more for the accumulation of, for want of a better word, 'facts'. Some of the posts that I have been encouraging are more about feelings and experiences of working for the Post Office. Others that I had considered a more about commenting on a particular issue or question. These are valid forms of user-generated content, and for that reason, I don't think there's any harm in using the Wiki as a forum for them. They do not, however, lend themselves to collaboration. The post about my grandfather's time working for the Post Office for instance, realistically will only solicit, at the most, collaboration from my immediate family who still remember the stories he used to tell us. It's currently pretty unlikely that one of his former wor colleagues might find it, but if they did, they might also be able to add to some of my Grandmother's anecdotes about the practical jokes he played on his colleagues. But that is all. There is little scope for collaboration.

But then I took a look around at some of the genealogical Wikis out there. They don't seem to necessarily mind if each page is only contributed to by one person - they simply encourage their users to create a page for each member of their family that they are researching. In the end, if successful, this could create a set of pages on a wide range of people from the past. In theory, if the group gets wide enough, then people might be able to start finding someone that they too are researching, and then they would be able to collaborate.

I don't think it's necessarily wrong to promote the creation of content that won't promote collaboration, but I think maybe I need to think more carefully about how to make sure that there is an element of collaboration possible. Otherwise why would people keep returning to the site. And how would a community develop?



Blogger Sian said...

I'm beginning to wonder whether I should become a co-author of your dissertation!

Anyway, how much do you plan to look at the practical issues of wiki, such as (another of my pet topics) Intellectual Property Rights? This will in some way be connected to the questions of whether you plan to reuse the content of the wiki in other different ways.

a site which might prove useful in this area is Web2.0Rights

10 April 2008 at 15:09  
Blogger Rhiannon Looseley said...

Hi Sian,
Good point. I've kind of been sweeping IP under the carpet in my brain for the moment because I don't know much about it. I do think I will need to talk about it though, so yes.

Thanks for your comment!

10 April 2008 at 16:43  

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