Sunday, 18 September 2011

Thing 22

Thing 22 - Wikis

Next week's reflection apart, this is the last Thing I am obliged to write about, and also, for me, the most difficult. What do I know of wikis?

Well, occasionally I find myself following a Google search result to the Countdown Wiki or the Family Guy Wiki, and I use Wikipedia daily, though sometimes I have to remind myself that I shouldn't take everything I find there at face value. The fact that anyone can edit it means that vandalism is rife. Take as an example this edit of the entry for my home town of Frome, which ingeniously amalgamates the previous edit with the entry for the Black Sea resort of Varna. Sample lie: 'Like other Somerset towns, Frome has its share of stray dogs, for the most part calm and friendly, flashing orange clips on the ears showing they have been castrated and vaccinated.' To set the record straight, Frome did not have eighteen mosques in the 19th century, and there is no Prince Boris I Boulevard anywhere in Somerset (or, indeed, the United Kingdom).

The dome of Frome Cathedral

Apart from the occasional amendment to Wikipedia, though, I haven't had anything to do with contributing to wikis. As Anna says, we used to be able to edit our library website using a Wiki, but my memories of using it are so slight as to be practically nonexistent. Probably I never did.

In a customarily perceptive post Annie compares the function of wikis to that of Google Docs, which we explored as Thing 9 many, many weeks ago. I suspect she is quite right to suggest that wikis are better for long-term projects. They're also preferable to other technologies as the reach widens. Wikis may be on the way out, but Wikipedia at least should survive, because a wiki is probably the most appropriate way (at the moment) of managing a collection of information to which presumably tens of thousands of people contribute. If, however, you're working on a smaller project with a small group of people, it's less hassle to use Google Docs.

I feel an obligation to apologise for such a half-hearted traversal of the wiki, but I know I'm not the only person feeling a sort of lethargy at this stage of proceedings. It's been fun (I'm sure that will come across when my Thing 23 post appears), but at the same time a break from blogging will be welcome. I will be rejuvenated by the time of the party on Thursday. Hope to see a lot of you there!

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