Wednesday, 12 March 2008

Marieke Guy's 'Wiki or Won't He?' article

Guy's, 'Wiki or Won't He? A Tale of Public Sector Wikis' responds to Steven Andrew Mathieson's Guardian unlimited article from February2006 on public sector wikis. Guy's article will be particularly useful for literature review because it shows that the technical aspects of setting up a wiki have been adequately covered, certainly more adequately than I could cover them.

It also makes some interesting points on what Guy feels is stopping a widespread use of Wiki technology in the public sector.

Among the barriers that Guy identifies is the potential reluctance that some organisations may feel when faced with the freedom that Wikis provide. This may have implications for authority, opinion and accountability and liability.

Guy also discusses the practical issue of the time taken to moderate content. I think this is a very real consideration. As the Web Officer, I get notified by email as soon as anyone makes a change to a BPMA Wiki page. I can immediately use a "/diff page" to see what it is they have added, and if necessary, I can revert the change. So far this has proved quite manageable but it may prove more difficult to manage if/when more people start to contribute to the Wiki.

Guy, like others that I've already read, cites the famous John Seigenthaler's entry on Wikipedia which, for a while in 2005, falsely linked Seigenthaler to the Kennedy assassination, as an example of the potential for abuse of Wikis.

Getting people to use a Wiki

Like Tonkin, Guy discussed the 'biggest barrier of all' - 'getting people to use a wiki'. He explains 'We are so used to the idea of Web sites as entities that are controlled by their creators that challenging this control is unnatural.

I was particularly interested in his application of the 1% rule which suggests that 'For every 100 people online, one will create content, 10 will 'interact' with it ... and the other 89 will just view it.'

Guy also includes some useful discussions of how others are using Wikis, including in learning and in libraries which may well be applicable and interesting for my project.

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