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Why wikis?

September 7, 2005

This from FLOSSE POSSE, a blog on Open Source software for education.
By Teemu Arina – writing about the impact of 9/11 on the development of blogging, and comparing it to the potential development of wikis after Katrina –

This might be a turning point for wikis that sets the wiki revolution free. There are many free tools and many of these tools are so easy to use that anyone can use them. Wiki is one of them. The method of Open Source is the enabler and useful applications like collective distributed disaster help are cases that push it forward.

But as much as these easy-to-use and cheap social tools are useful for large disasters, so are they scalable for a single organization and their own little catastrophies, be it a community of schools, a medium-sized company or a multi-national organization.


To support a business practice in events of failure, we need a bottom-up collective distributed social system to help people to get things done with peer-help instead of straining those who hold the strings. Social tools like wikis, blogs and social networking might as well be the partial bottom-up answer to these communication problems, not a top-down intranet.

This applies to learning as well. If you don’t have a formal way to solve a problem, you will use your informal network of peers to find a way to overcome what you have in front of you. Your knowledge is not necessarily anymore in your head, it’s distributed in your social network and you are beginning to scratch those digital tools that will help you to use it as an extension to your own thinking.

Just like the social aspects of furl, and of flickr allow a new, more grassroots, peer, democratic form of sharing, so do wikis, which I will explore more in future posts.


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