Writing on a Wiki

WritingOnAWiki is a social act of will and cooperation: conscious, intentional, open, knowable, learned, governed by shared rhetorical practices. The social interaction is guided by the wiki StyleGuide and CollaborationConventions.

[edit below ] We distinguish it from TheWritingProcess, which is personal, idiosyncratic.

WritingOnAWiki means re-turning to a topic periodically to see what's developing. It means authors enter a page and work with the emerging text in a variety of ways. An author may refactor one section of a page, then go to another page and add to an emerging thread. She may add a WikiWord to still another page, pointing out a link from one topic to another, and then go have a cup of coffee to return to the wiki later to see what happened.

the process in a nutshell

A reader senses a difference, something left out, or an alternative way of thinking. She becomes an author and declares a new topic by creating a WikiWord on a page, going to the new page, and setting out some ideas, a summary, a direction for that page. The WikiWord is now a topic: a potential to be filled.

She announces the existence of the topic. Or not. The topic appears in RecentChanges and the PageIndex.

Others visit the topic, and leave. Or they begin to develop it in ThreadMode (signed) or DocumentMode (unsigned, above the DoubleLines).

Others return frequently to see how it's going. More topics are created off the developing topic as readers-become-authors turn words into WikiWords to create new topics. Pre-existing topics are linked into the developing topic as authors use WikiWords.

The parent of the page joins them. Or not. Parents let their children go.

The process continues as ThreadMode material bubbles up and is refactored into DocumentMode, and as DocumentMode material spurs more ThreadMode exchange.

also TheWikiAndCreativeWriting

social interaction

let's move this concern to its own page: JumpingIn, or WikiWallflowers
In a wiki, someone has to jump in first and be willing to put forth the ideas, and be willing to take the comments or editing that may follow. The benefits of WritingOnAWiki would be that those who are more reserved might feel more comfortable contributing because they know the text can easily be changed by their own hand or by a WikiGnome. Or they may not. If someone edits an idea, it may imply there was an error or lack of substance. Are there, or will there be, WikiWallflowers?

In order for effective interaction to occur, the social context must be understood by the participants. If it is misunderstood, won't the thread or topic stagnate in an uncomfortable silence?


in edit re: WritingProcess
Aren't WritingOnAWiki and WritingProcess the same thing? Both are an act of will. Composing the thought in the mind and writing it down are basically the same thing, right? Both are learned internally and are conscious attampts to pen thoughts to the wiki. Both require one to read and comprehend what others' thought processes are, and then go on to write your thoughts down in either an agreeable or argumentative voice.

The distinction suggests that composing a thought in the mind and writing it down are not the same thing. The distinction suggests that the connection between the mind and keyboard is socially mediated, not direct.

WritingOnAWiki is a consideration of the social and rhetorical moves that people make as they contribute to a wiki. The wiki environment influences the WritingProcess in significant ways. WritingOnAWiki discusses and catalogs these ways.

WritingOnAWiki is social, not solitary. It's intrusive, interruptive: the reader decides at one moment of reading to intrude on the text, to interrupt its surface, to change it. WritingOnAWiki is modal: ThreadMode, DocumentMode, RefactoringPages. and so on. MorganMC
I remember a quote: "It would take a thousand average people pooled together for a hundred years to equal the life's work of one genius." On a wiki, I really think this can be useful and it doesn't take 100 years, either.

On a wiki, pages can be constantly refactored to keep them within a manageable size. As an author, you can be assured that even if your comment doesn't persist in its exact words, if your comment is considered valuable it will probably be refactored into longer-lasting text. In addition, the WikiNow allows contributions to be valuable for a much longer amount of time than they would typically be if posted on a time-oriented WebLog.
writing on a wiki means you don't have to confine yourself to the topics-of-the-day that are written such as in the RecentChanges category we see on Dr. Morgan's program page. . If the idea is topical to the subject of the wiki, then your writing should be in the wiki page until someone changes it or the page discolves. Even if people don't read it right away. In other categories, one has to bank their ideas until it's time to spew it out. On a wiki you can get them on the Internet immedialey. But the thoughts you have should be just as important if you verbally and rhetorically display them just as much in person than on a wiki. People may not be listening to your voice in conversation as they would more if it were on a wiki.

using different types of wikis

There are a number of types of wikis to choose from once you decide you want to give writing on a wiki a try.

see StyleGuide

CategoryWiki CategoryWikiHandbook
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