The wonders of wikis

One of the problems of trying to get my blog project off the ground is that I have spoken to a lot of people about it. This has given the false impression that I’m only obsessed by blogs, when I’m obsessed by new media as a whole. This blog should show that I’m a rounded digital player with an understanding of many developments on the web.

I would like to take the opportunity to showcase/showoff my Group Sales wiki (for what it’s worth). This was something that I started, believing it would enable a greater level of conversation amongst parts of the group that are separated by borders and wonky timezones.

Firstly, what is a wiki? This is answered very well in an article by John Edwards of CFO :

“Wiki,” the Hawaiian word for “quick,” is also the name for collaborative Web sites that let users add and edit content quickly and easily.

The best-known of these collaborative sites is Wikipedia, a multilingual Web-based encyclopedia. Unlike conventional online reference works, which are updated on regular schedules by professional writers and editors, Wikipedia is written entirely by volunteers and allows most articles to be changed, edited, or updated by any user at any time. This continual, “community oriented” publishing approach has enabled it to become the world’s most largest and most current encyclopedia — though hardly the most accurate, say detractors.

As Wikipedia’s popularity has soared, businesses have begun to investigate its underlying technology as a way to share business and financial knowledge among employees, suppliers, and customers. Why use highly structured content management software, they reason, when a wiki’s collaborative process can get the job done faster and easier?”

The software has already been adopted by many organisations (there is even, I believe, an Economist editorial Social Text wiki). A good example of such just such a company is Dresdner Kleinwort Wasserstein. There is a great case study on the implementation and this is part of the conclusion :

“At DrKW, wiki users have seen demonstrable value. Their meetings run more smoothly and are more productive; unnecessary barriers between teams are being broken down; the quality of product specifications and documentation is improving; presentations are being written faster and more effectively; and the risks posed by staff leaving is reduced.

But more than that, the wiki is helping people form business relationships with people that they would otherwise never have met. It’s strengthening existing relationships, and providing a forum for high quality conversation and exchange of ideas.”

Having drunk from the wiki Kool Aid I thought I’d see if I could get some of these benefits by setting up a wiki on StikiPad. The chief aim of this was to put up information that I had on the Postgraduate Courses section that I was working on (see Economist’s of 30th September and October 7th).

This would be a way of putting information up there which could then be shared without sending a barrage of group emails around the salespeople and reps. I have the privilege of working on courses full time and I’d love it if others could benefit from my work. What would be even better would be if I could benefit from their’s.

Eventually I put up here not just Postgraduate section material, but also dotcom options and sales emails for the various surveys.

Now, I’m not going to say it was a success. Whilst some folk have accepted authorship of the wiki, it has just one user. The total failure of the project aside, I hope you can see that I try to come up with innovative, practical solutions using web apps.

If you would like to have a look around this ghost wiki please email me and I’ll send you an invitation.


The benefits of collaboration


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