There are, simply put, too few wiki in existence today. We are not yet at the Futures:MassUseOfWiki.
Note to future selves: please delete this page when we eventually hit the magic number that equals JustEnoughWiki?. The day after, when another wiki is created, move the whole thing over again to TooManyWiki?.
There are hoards of subjects for which there is no clear wiki to attach the ideas to. If you want to talk “Robotics,” or “Education,” there’s no good wiki to use. You could hit one of the regional (Texas), college, or lab (in Japanese) wiki on Robotics. You could go to the Educational Technology wiki. But if you just want to talk about education, without necessarily being about technology, there’s no real clear place to go.
So, we’ll have too few wiki until you can usually find a wiki on any particular reasonable topic of interest.
“Too few wiki” may not be clear in its meaning. Does it mean wiki websites, wiki engines, wiki communities - or maybe even wiki users, wiki knowledge or wiki processes? We may assume it’s all of that. They go hand in hand. At the surface one may talk about the number of wiki websites, but below the surface there are lots of qualities. Any wiki website will have some users (even if only the founder himself), some vision (even if it doesn’t work out)… Any engine will results in the creation of some wikis and some community… Without a community a wiki will not spawn new wikis, so we need communities… We could go on and on (features and culture)… Quantity and quality are inseparable. There are TooFewWiki but there is also “too little wiki”.
(this section contributed by EvanProdromou)
You, CommunityWiki member, may be saying to yourself, “I don’t do robotics and I got out of school years ago. I don’t care about raising reindeer, model trains, or Edmonton Oilers collectible figurines. So, why should I give a rat’s wiki ass whether there are wikis for these subjects or not?
“Anyways, my wiki on insert subject here works great, has a vibrant and active community, is getting tons of hits, and even managed to get me a date next Thursday with one of the members (woohoo!). My wiki’s going to keep on chugging along even if every other wiki on earth mysteriously collapses tomorrow. So why should I care that there’s ‘too few wiki’? Why? Whyyyyyyyy?”
Here are some reasons why having more, and more varied, wikis helps us all.
Conversely, some downsides of having lots of wiki would be:
There is a downside to creating new wikis. We have to cope with potential problems, avoid negative side-effect:
The solution to TooFewWiki is to increase the number of wikis: in one word growth. Growth is a problem in itself, growth can be nice and organic or uncontrolled like cancer or global economy. The lead philosopher about organic growth and living systems is ChristopherAlexander. He talks about how systems unfold, how they develop in steps, which he labels “structure preserving transformations” and he observed and described them during his whole life. His message is not very accessable though, for some reasons: he deals with the world of art and architecture (and must be transformed somehow to be applicable) and his final word is captured in his 4-volume-$300+ “The Nature Of Order”. Still: he talks about systems that support life, how these systems evolve in single steps, where each step has a purpose and gives an advantage while preserving the structure, meaning and value of the old system as far as possible.
A consequence of more wikis is more advertising and therefore unwanted advertising.
When sites are advertised at relevant places, everyone rejoices. The people who are interested in A are also interested in things that are conceptually close to A.
When sites are advertised at irrelevant places, everybody hates it. The people who are interested in A don’t want to hear about things that are conceptually far from A.
Because there are massive holes in our infrastructure, people are very strongly motivated (almost “forced,” even) to advertise their wiki in places that are inappropriate. Simply because there are no places where it’s actually appropriate to advertise.
Places which are always willing to insert links to new wikis are the existing wikis who want to list all other wiki. One of those and a list of other such wikis you will find here: http://www.worldwidewiki.net/wiki/SwitchWiki
I hope nobody will be offended if I bring up ErnstGruber’s OmWiki. Most people will feel that this is a pretty nice guy, and his ArtWiki is actually pretty cool, if a bit on the cheesy side.
He, naturally, wants to advertise the wiki. Where should he do so? Some of the good associations are:
Now, these aren’t unpopular ideas. Wiki taxonomy is sort of narrow. But Democracy?! Social Justice?! These are biiig ideas, enveloping entire social movements.
We have almost an obligation to- when we say, “That’s OffTopic here,” to point a person to where what they say is OnTopic. We believe in ConsolidateInformation, right? OnceAndOnlyOnce, Right? So, we want want to make sure people can find their way. (“hem, hem:” This also implies WikiNodes.) So we are almost obligated to tell people: That’s OffTopic here. You’re in the right place. It’s OnTopic over there.
So we get Inappropriate Advertising. Sucks.
Update: A democracy wiki has arrived: http://udoo.org/uniteddiversity - I believe it won’t be too long now, before TooFewWiki is no longer true. Maybe a year or two. Check again March 2006. – LionKimbro
Update: while the UnitedDiversity wiki does have pages referring to GlobalDemocraticRevolution?, LiquidDemocracy, EmergentDemocracy?, DemocracySoftware? etc., it is not merely a democracy wiki - that would be http://www.betterdemocracy.net – JosefDaviesCoates
Out Temporary Fix seems to be: Send people to the closest wiki on the subject. (And: If all else fails: Send it to C2, which is used to being the wiki dumping ground. Even though they’ll just delete it.)
This is actually not all that bad, when there’s some relevance. Can’t find a wiki on VisualLanguage? Weeeeeell, the folk on C2 might be interested in that. I mean, Pattern Languages? They’re visual, right? And, there are Visual Programming Languages, right? So…. We’ll just stuff the content over there.
In fact, there are lots of little pockets on the web where people are talking about Visual Programming Languages. Personal wiki. C2. Other places. Weird places. Who knows where. (Certainly not the Visual Language wiki. There ain’t no such thing.)
Like I said: This isn’t so bad. But there’s a problem.
When the Visual Language Wiki DOES Arrive, Wiki are, at least in these modern days (2003-12-21), reluctant to hand over the cash. A wiki, presently, is territorial about it’s pages. “What do you mean we can’t talk about VisualLanguage here on C2 wiki? Nahnah nah- this is C2! We’re the Wiki! How dare you take our content away!” (Now, nobody’s said those words, or even that adament; I am just exaggerating the subtle attitude, for clarity by emphasis.)
So, when a wiki is missing (and it frequently is, because there are TooFewWiki), allll these little seeds of discussion all over the place start to grow. And, because wiki are young, we don’t think about legal issues, and so there are aaallll these little itty bitty CopyrightTraps, all over the place. When the new wiki is made, it has to struggle against the canonicalization of previous wiki (WikiCanonicalization?), even when the wiki is only very tangentially about the subject at hand.
It is better that the ideas are collected in pockets, rather than nowhere at all. And those pockets do make a final integration easier, even though you have to fight against WikiCanonicalization? in all the wrong places.
But: We should be motivated to reverse TooFewWiki. We are motivated to inform people of Wiki, to figure out Wiki, and to make more wiki.
There are TooFewWiki.
The Visual Language wiki has arrived: http://visual.wiki.taoriver.net/ (Thanks, LionKimbro !). But that doesn’t affect the conclusion: even though discussions of this topic are off-topic at other wikis, it’s difficult to move those discussions to this wiki where they are on-topic, and in general, there’s tons of other topics that do not yet have a wiki where they can be on-topic. – DavidCary
When your want to discuss something wiki-style with other people …
When people create a new wiki, they are encouraged to add a page describing their wiki to SwitchWiki. Consider adding that page before your wiki is actually operational, as a “seed posting” to attract other people interested in that topic. People can discuss that topic on that page until the “real” wiki is set up. (Or perhaps someone will point you to one of the over 1000 already-existing wiki where that is on-topic).
After the “real” wiki is set up, move all the discussion over ( WikiBudding ), leaving behind a link to the new wiki.
I’ve written this, and I realize it’s sort of crude.
I won’t be offended, at all, if someone completely rewrites this page.
However, I would like the general ideas to remain. (No reversal of meaning, etc., etc.,.)
If the ideas prove to be controversial to our community; Lets clear the page, and argue the ideas, and then rewrite when we figure out what we want to say. But, I suspect we are in agreement with the basic ideas, on this wiki at least.
Yes. The name was intended as a play on TooManyWikiEngines.
Yeah, I agree with the ideas on this page. – BayleShanks
However, when a sufficiently similar wiki does exist, I think it is better to direct the topic there rather than to start a new wiki immediately. – BayleShanks
I think that’s the point – there are no “sufficiently similar” wiki in lots of areas.
CategoryInformationManagement (there is too much to talk about, and too few buckets to talk about it in - perhaps that needs to be a different page in CategoryInformationManagement, and then we put this page in someplace about special Wiki Information Management issues… WikiKM?? ) – LionKimbro
I really think the OneWikiPerSubject? public-wiki-community model is flawed. I think of it from the other direction: start with OneWikiPerPerson?, then use InterWiki to help individuals weave their thoughts together, then have group spaces emerge from those relationships. (But I could be wrong.) --BillSeitz
Hi! Nice to meet you!
So: What do you think of ConsolidateInformation? Because- by everyone using their own wiki, and linking to others- I’m just seeing the same conversation all over the place. I don’t think people are necessarily going to want to keep track of who “owns” a page, or even give such a person so much power over the page. I’d trust a site dedicated to a subject more than some stranger’s site, you know?
But you know what though- I think you’re right, too, in a way. I can easily see specific subject wiki, dedicated to some topic, growing out of a conversation that started out on multiple wiki.
And, it’s certainly useful to have a personal wiki.
Hmm; But your paragraph starts with “I think the OneWikiPerSubject public-wiki-community model is flawed.” And, that just seems way out there to me.
Can you tell us why you think it’s flawed? (Is it just that- people disagree, and so you want it tied to the person? Because- if that’s the case- I’d argue that you just find the people who do agree, and get them their own wiki. IntegrationAndIdentity.)
Hmmm… – LionKimbro
(Pardon the rambling that follows…)
While I think it’s great that the WikiPedia exists, and it’s great that there aren’t 200 of them with largely-“redundant” coverage, I don’t think that most of what gets written on the web is similar in “smell” to encyclopedia. Even attempting a NeutralPointOfView would just dampen the HumanVoice?. There ain’t no such thing as RedundantInformation?.
To take an example from your recent note to AaronSwartz, the idea of people forming an EducationWiki? seems doomed to conflict to me. And while it might lead to sub-groups splitting off into their own spaces, it feels more positive to me to start from each from his own space then seek like-minded (that sounds more GroupThink-y than I intend) people to start dialogue with.
Another perspective: For a group, I find a wiki’s “positioning” (vs alternatives like MailingList-s, group blogs, separate per-person blogs, forums, etc.) to be in reinforcing convergence of thought. Yet I find convergence of thought across a group very difficult to achieve unless/until there is an intent of outcome-action. Communities that are just exploring ideas tend to chase their own tales over time: I think this is less-reinforced when each individual has his own space.
Yet another perspective: I’m interested in lots of things, and find many of them connect, at least fuzzily/tangentially. I can’t see balkanizing my thoughts across multiple subject-specific spaces, regardless of the level of InterWiki integration.
(This sort of thinking is why I’m a WikiLog junkie.)
Hope there was something useful above… --BillSeitz
Well, I don’t think Wiki is going to destroy the Blog, or vice versa.
You don’t have to balkanize your thoughts; You’ll always be able to write in your blog, or a group-blog, or whatever.
But if you want to help collaborate with other people to make a network of inter-connecting documents with people, wiki’s really the way to go.
I can’t imagine hoards of people visiting hoards of individual’s blogs, rewriting the documents in them, and networking them together. Even if the technology was there, it’d just be… Not what it was for.
Your blog is made to be your individual space. The wiki is made to be a collective space, centered on some subject.
If you’ve ever written on Usenet, you’ve already balkanized your thoughts. You’ve selected a newsgroup, at the exclusion of another. (Maybe I’m just mis-understanding what you mean..?)
I really need to start the page WhenToUseWiki..! It’s been a recurring theme.
One way to encourage creating more wiki is to create ReserveWiki.
(moved to ReserveWiki)
Some things (perhaps many things) are better off discussed on SocialSoftware other than wikis. Why the focus on directing someone to a wiki? Why not direct them to a mailing list or something similar? It is not our place to convince all the communities that talk about democracy that they should do so on a wiki. Maybe some of that relatively “permanent” knowledge material does warrant a wiki – but that’s not our call.
Let’s look at an example: there’s no democracy wiki. But there are lots of communities that talk about democracy. Political parties, for starters. Political scientists. Historians. Weblogs. Geocities-like websites. Those would be non-wiki alternatives.
So if someone writes some off-topic stuff on democracy on a wiki I’m a member of, I can ask them to remove it, and ask that they post it in another community. There are lots to choose from – it’s up to the poster to find them and choose. It’s not my place to choose a community for the poster.
Often the poster doesn’t even realize that any other communities exist – maybe he did a quick google and turned up nothing on the first 2 pages, and gave up – he didn’t know that page 3 had several communities that he would find fascinating. If this wiki is the one discussion group (as far as I know) where his writing is most relevant, then telling him to go away is rude, since he will most likely post somewhere else where it’s even more off-topic. On the other hand, if I do know there’s some other discussion group that is more relevant, telling him to go away is still rude, it’s like saying “everyone else knows lots of discussion groups for _, but since you’re too dumb to find any of them yourself, I’m not going to help.”. – DavidCary (EditHint: perhaps a big chunk of this discussion should move to OffTopic)
See OffTopic for more discussion of pointing people to other communities. We don’t know all the alternative communities, and we don’t get to choose where off-topic contributors should go. All we can do is suggest where they might go, in order to prevent further topic conflict.
And then there’s more: Not only topics vary, but perspective varies, too. So there might be various democracy communities available, each with a different point of view, a different style, etc. There’s more about that on IntegrationAndIdentity. A simple example would be the WorldSocialForum? (WSF), which is all about Democracy, but- from a particular perspective and value set. Those people would love to know about the OmWiki, whereas the OmWiki would be clearly off-topic on the Emacs Wiki.
I want to write more- no time now. Briefly:
Some things are so rooted in the moment that the details won’t matter 100 years from now – time-based discussion is excellent for that. – DavidCary
The point isn’t that we’re connecting wiki. The point is that we are connecting community. But we do it by the wiki, because it is like the “body” of the community. Everything else zips away, momentary, transitory.
At present, there are too few wiki. People talk about things, but do not know to make a wiki for them. They just don’t know.
So we just have to wait. Then, Futures:MassUseOfWiki.
To wait won’t help. Time will pass, things will get worse, poverty and greed will explode and wiki will be f o r g o t t e n. It will be gone for ever. There might be a slight little chance though if we straigtforward make wiki as pop as can be. People simply do not know about wiki. Just like Linux a few years ago. People simply didn’t know that it exists. This changed. People start to realize that there is another mind out there now, and they start to realize that it’s powerful.
A very good pop example: Knoppix. ThomasWaldmann told me about it IRC, I had vagely heard about it, but never seen it. Knoppix is maybe even usable, but that’s not the real great about it. The great is that you make a copy for anybody and it perfectly deflorizes every win machine and togeher with it the mind of it’s owner within two bootup minutes. There is is something else and this something is working, it is powefull and it is legaly for free. That’s pop.
I agree with your sense of urgency.
I feel we have two major goals:
I’m thinking about writing a page “WikiProliferation,” to express the sentiment to reach those two goals.
See also: WikiNameSpace.
Ya Lion, sorry for not having the time these days. Ggo for it. I’ll be back.
I agree with Lion’s statement on WikiNameSpace that “NameSpace is a major tool in the fight for MassCoverageByWiki”. I’ve been discussing the opposite to TooFewWiki over on c2.com - Two Wikis is Too Many Wikis. But I think it’s equal and opposite. As a case in point, I want to point to my discussion on the c2.com wiki, and tho wiki:KatherynWindham or c2:KatherynWindham might work (I’m new to this wiki - I’ll soon find out!), it’s with com.c2.KatherynWindham I’d be conceptually most satisfied. It reeks of Java packaging, and was once proposed for XML namespaces, but the point is to optimise inclusivity and brevity in the namespace scheme
One of my arguments over on c2.com, tho, is that WikiName topic collisions probably aren’t common enough to make a single catch-all wiki a bad idea. Names would be the first place where problems are noticed - but that could be resolved by having, for example, a JohnSmith page listing all the associated JohnNicknameSmith? pages (similar to how Wikipedia manages topics such as http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edward_II). Tho c2.com has evolved into an XP-oriented site, I’d be shocked if there weren’t a catch-all wiki out there somewhere!
I think we can all agree that there are TooManyWikiEngines. Perhaps there’s not enough syntax and feature customizability. I’d like to explore having a conceptual model for WikiFormatting, which would act rather like Parrot bytecode does for Perl 6 - letting everyone specify their own personal syntaxes, which would be automatically converted by the server on the fly. If the base format were XML, an XSLT sheet for each person would suffice! As for the abundance of features, until the world can agree on whether EditCopy or TotalRecall? is best, we’re going to have bloat
I have a kind of vision of a DistributedWiki where everyone subscribes to the same scheme - using reverse domain names for precise linking, and either some complicated PageRank-esque global device or obvious local device for flat links. (Please excuse my under-explanation - a deliberate mix of handwaving and note-to-selfing!)
So there’s a few random thoughts for you all. As I say, I’m new here, so please be gentle, and please point me if I’ve breached any local etiquette or syntax rules (e.g. should I create a user page even though I’ve only made the one post?). Thanks!
wOw. That’s a lot. But it’s great.
I’ll write more later. Just a note to let you know you’ve been read, and that your writing is appreciated.
Yes, you should create a user page. You may want to collect a list of the ideas presented here as well, on said user page.
Hey Katheryn, welcome and create a user page. To me every user page is good even without any other post on the wiki, as I know you’re there. It kicks me to know others are there.
I’ve been wanting to reply for so long! So, finally. Hope you are still checking for updates, and see this.
The closest thing, immediately on hand, to what you’re talking about, is BigBucketsFirst. This is the idea that we should try to group large collections of things first, rather than going down and making things narrow. This is in sympathy with what you are saying.
The division of wiki into multiple wiki serves a lot of purposes- Namespace collision and topical independence is just one of them.
This has been a theme of discussion on this wiki once before, but I don’t think we ever recorded the conversation; We should probably store it this time, since it is a recurring theme.
Does it make sense?
So, I was going to write some snotty comment about why should I care if there’s too few wiki or not? and then I realized that I could answer the question myself, and I did, and I just wedged it into the middle of this page rather than letting it drag on into a 10-course ThreadMode spaghetti dinner. – EvanProdromou
A couple of months ago I agreed 100% with this page.
Today I still feel we need more wiki, but I disagree with the implied conclusion that “Democracy … These are biiig ideas, enveloping entire social movements … [Therefore we need entire wiki dedicated to each of these subjects].
Now I suspect that no human can look at something and say “of course, we need to make a fresh new wiki just for this”.
Instead, I’m starting to think:
Here’s the “growth of a subject” theory:
Note that none of these steps have anything to do with how “big” an idea is in terms of how many books have been written about it, how much time people spend thinking about it, how much money is spent on it, or etc. Most steps depend on how many people are willing to edit text (“willing to babysit RecentChanges”) related to that subject – how big is the community of people ? If there aren’t enough people, then growth of the subject stalls out at the right level.
On one hand, Using this sequence (rather than jumping directly from a single word to a fresh new wiki) seems to sidestep most of the problems of “insufficiently large community” mentioned at HalfWiki. On the other hand, The WikiBudding process hopefully prevents any one wiki from becoming too big (RecentChanges flowing by too fast to keep up with).
Yah, the basic story (a common one) should have a page of it’s own, either on WikiBudding, or linked from WikiBudding (what I would want.) I’d call it “OrganicGrowthFromSentenceToWiki?,” or something like that. It’s in a similar vein and motivation as “SplitWiki” and the “HubAndSpokeWikis” plan.
Maybe we should make a list of the ways that people come to create wiki.
OrganicGrowthFromSentenceToWiki? seems to rely on the one that has produced the least growth, it seems to me: A wiki has a split in interest or community, and makes a new wiki.
Relocating people to a wiki is a difficult and arduous process: Forming friendships takes time. People who meet around a particular subject aren’t necessarily friends.
People tend to focus on seeing and communicating with other people, and they want to be “where the friendly people are.” People have far more stickiness than subjects, it seems to me. This idea leads me to believe in the HubAndSpokeWikis model, which focuses on a group of people, and then they integrate their product (their pages) into more subject-oriented wiki.
(Actually, now that I think about it, the HalfWiki would be an excellent candidate for the subject-oriented wiki, while waiting for a community / project to develop explicitely around the subject.)
Screw it. I’m going to start changing the PageDatabase. Hold on.
I think the basic problem is that of identification. A HalfWiki will usually not grow, because people can’t feel that it will become their own. It’s maybe like pioneers in a new country. If there are no rules, nobody will come. If you say: “take this peace of land (wiki), it’s free and it may become your own, but you must cultivate it. Grow 1000 good pages in a year and its yours. Its free of taxes for 2 years. Then you have to pay for it modestly or take it elsewhere.” Maybe such a thing could work. – HelmutLeitner
To contribute to the Many Wiki versus One Massive Wiki debate, I have a few thoughts. I just started two Wikis for creative writers: WriteHere.net for creative works and SolaSI?.org for discussion about the community, theory, and other non-creative activities. Though the two sites are intimately related (indeed, so much so that I may try to get SisterSites working in the engines), I felt that the two needed to be separate. My reasoning is thus:
Since wiki is young and few people are aquainted with it, one needs something captivating to get new people involved. Furthermore, since the technology isn’t well-known, many people are turned off by unfamiliar interfaces and strange, long pages, and the syntax. The people which I hope to attract to WriteHere.net (writers) often have an ambivilant relationship to technology anyway - I don’t know anyone who doesn’t use the web, but I don’t know many writers who embrace new technologies readily. Furthermore, many creative writers disdain Critical Theory. When looking for writings, if members of my potential community were to come across a lot of theory documents, they may not only leave but refuse to return for fear that they will somehow be ruined by the theory. So, I like to keep the theory close to the writing, but not in the same place – that way, people who just want to write can write. I realize I’m prejudging a group (writers) and I’m usurping responsibilty in my prejudice. However, to me at least it sometimes makes sense to keep information separate but available, as to not: (1) Overwhelm new users with too many options in a single place; and (2) Turn off users with a lot of the “wrong” content in a single place.
Having the two domains also makes it easier for users/community members to know where they are – it helps reduce disorientation so feared in earlier Hypertext theory. – MattBowen
As of 2006-09-30, there are 3,451 wiki listed at WikiIndex.
(Since WikiIndex is in English, I suspect there is a large under-reporting bias for wiki in other languages).
At least in for English-language wiki, would you say there are almost enough wiki? .
I think now that it’s not so much “too few wiki,” but “too few groups.” That said, there’s a yin/yang to this: Wiki make it easier for groups to form.
I think that as we approach PervasiveComputing, UbituitousComputing?, whatever you would call it; I think that problem will solve itself, among the young. I’m skeptical that the older will ever break out of their my privacy, MY PRIVACY! fears.
“too few groups”? We have programmers, science fiction fans, and gamers. Oh, and trolls and spammers.
(Insert funny punchline here – perhaps something about both kinds of music, country and western).
But seriously, yes, I agree. Things would be better if we had the viewpoints of other groups in online wiki.
How could I rephrase that to maintain my pretense that I don't believe in groups?
Another attitude/fear interfering with mass adoption of wiki is the attitude of “I put a lot of time, effort, and money into assembling my personal collection of information – I’m not going to give it away for free!”.
Certainly that’s a valid point of view for stuff that you actually can sell.
But for stuff that I can't sell, it makes no difference how much this information cost me. If I’m not going to (directly) make any money off it either way (either keep it hidden in my files, or giving it away for free), why shouldn’t I give away this information?
(I’m thinking specifically about my megastructure design plans – designs which probably won’t be implemented within the next 100 years … librarians and others seem to think the same way about other subjects).
Define external redirect: WikiCanonicalization SolaSI OneWikiPerPerson OrganicGrowthFromSentenceToWiki EducationWiki HumanVoice TooManyWiki JustEnoughWiki DemocracySoftware GlobalDemocraticRevolution TotalRecall JohnNicknameSmith WorldSocialForum ElectronicJanitor OneWikiPerSubject WikiKM EmergentDemocracy UbituitousComputing RedundantInformation
EditNearLinks: JohnSmith CategoryTag WikiIndex WikiNodes ErnstGruber WriteHere CommunityOnline OpenSource NeutralPointOfView PageDatabase WikiName WikiEngine WikiFormatting MailingList ChristopherAlexander ThomasWaldmann PervasiveComputing GroupThink WikiLog AaronSwartz PageRank OmWiki EditCopy SwitchWiki JosefDaviesCoates MeatballWiki UnitedDiversity BehavioralNorms