Weblogs and Wikis 2012, Week 5: Wikis

For the next two weeks, we're looking at and working in wikis. The required readings (Levinson, Lamb, Morgan), will give you some background on them, but here's an intro.

The inventor of the World Wide Web, Tim Berners-Lee, in 1989, originally envisioned the web as a two-way medium. Everyone would be able to use a browser not just to access information, but to create content, link to content, and post content. Although Berners-Lee had created a browser that would also allow users to create and edit pages, it was not widely distributed. It was difficult, tedious, and expensive to create sites and pages. Soon after the web went public in 1992, the Internet went commercial and commercialization bulldozed individual interests: There would be Content Producers, and there would be Content Consumers. Creation on the Web remained limited to those with money and technical expertise.

(Producers and Consumers may come up again in this course as prosumers and produsage) See Bruns and produsage.org, a wiki. We could use pages on ProSumers and ProduSage.)

That changed in 1999 - 2000 with the advent of Blogger.com. But there was another stream of activity, less known at the time. In 1995, a programmer and professor, Ward Cunningham, invented the wiki without fanfare, and - like the original blogging software - released the first wiki software as open access: for free to whomever wanted to use it for whatever purpose.

Wikis didn't catch the the attention of the press until Wikipedia arrived, in 2001 0r so, but they were being used in programming and in higher ed for a few years before that. This course, Weblogs and Wikis, was one of the first to use a wiki as a center-point starting in 2003.

Although they are both publishing platforms and allow anyone with access to a browser to post content, wikis differ significantly from weblogs. Wikis are hypertextual writing spaces - entire web sites written and structured by their users on the fly, from the inside out, without the need for web design software or uploading. Like blogs, wikis can be the effort of an individual, but many are collaborative, welcoming all comers to the constant building and rebuilding of the site. The bottom of each wiki page suggests, "Edit This Page." Wikis make possible - and encourage - notebooks and collaborative writing projects, community projects, communally written encyclopedias, and technical assistance and help sites. But they can also be used for essays, collective hypertext short stories, and novels.

Two matters make wikis fundamentally different than weblogs and other social media: WikiSupportsTopicalWriting, and wikis afford an alternative process of composing to that of paper. Page titles on a wiki are created as topics rather than file names, and users link pages to pages using those topics to create a NetworkOfTopics. Wikis also change how writing gets done. When considered as WikiAsAWritingSpace a writing space, wikis change the process of writing from the print-based process of invention - draft - revise - edit to something other. ThreadMode to DocumentMode by way of RefactoringPages. Wiki writing leads to ReimaginingWriting.

This week you'll become familiar with our wiki, set up a WikiName page, add content - and start looking at other wikis in the wild.

Required reading

Required reading on this wiki

Required Activities

Wikis to Explore

Optional Readings and Activities


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