A "TopicNode" is a major "node" page for a major topic (as in CategoriesAndTopics) discussed in a wiki.

A TopicNode differs from a plain ForwardIndex in that:

The TopicNodes?, taken together, form a graph.

TopicNodes? do not just link exact topical matches; They also connect closely related topics, even though they may be different. This is a repetition of: "…based on nearness in SubjectSpace."

A TopicNode is similar to a WikiNode, except that: a WikiNode addresses wiki as a whole. TopicNodes? address topics; They are for some particular subject talked about inside wiki. (More on this below in "TopicNode vs. WikiNode.")

What's special about TopicNodes?

How is a TopicNode different than a wiki page that references wiki pages on other wiki?

Consider the page WikiSpam- it links to pages on WikiSpam on several other pages. How would a TopicNode on WikiSpam, (let's call it "WikiSpamNode?,") be different than the page WikiSpam?

It's different because WikiSpamNode? is explicitely about making a map of ideas.

WikiSpam, on the other hand, is about telling what we think about WikiSpam.

These are different things.

WikiSpam is good for saying: "Tell me what you have to say about WikiSpam."

WikiSpamNode? is good for saying: "Show me the pages you have about WikiSpam, and connect me up with other nodes about WikiSpam, and related nodes, both on this wiki and afar."

WikiSpamNode? would point to:

How is a TopicNode different than a ForwardIndex?

A ForwardIndex does only one of the things a TopicNode does: It points to pages on the same wiki about a topic.

A TopicNode, on the other hand, is a node. That is, it's part of a larger mesh (or "net" or "graph"). The node connects with other nodes, both on the same wiki and on other wiki, both on the same subject, and on near subjects. (Near in terms of "SubjectSpace.")

Again, the TopicNode named "WikiSpamNode?" might link to nodes about spam in general, wiki in general, wiki security, and wiki features related to spam. The ForwardIndex, as we presently use it, does not do these things.

How is a TopicNode different than a category page?

There are many ways of organizing information in a wiki. Most common is categories. But there's also sub-pages and PageClusters, and new things people invent every day. TopicNodes? should be considered a peer in this space. But a special peer in this space, since it explicitely networks understanding within and between wiki, rather than just relying on the HyperText content (the content pages themselves) to do so. Category tags themselves do not do this.

TopicNodes vs. WikiNodes

TopicNodes? solve several problems we've had with WikiNodes:

These are problems for normal WikiNodes. WikiNodes are made to connect related subjects- how you decide to link WikiNodes is based on how close they are in "SubjectSpace." But this assumes that a wiki is tied to one subject. When a wiki isn't tied to a subject, but rather, a person or a group of people, then it isn't really clear how to link. Do we link on the basis of friendships? Do we link on the "major issues" that have been discussed before, in the wiki?

This is where TopicNodes? come in: TopicNodes? can be made for each subject that the group or individual thinks they have some worthwhile pages on. If a group says, "Well, we've amassed a good number of pages on the subject of wiki organization," then the group could make a TopicNode for the subject of wiki organization. Then the group could tie that TopicNode in to the larger WikiNodes:WikiNodesNetwork?. If it was us, for instance, we could take our TopicNode on wiki organization, and connect it with some other wiki's TopicNode on organization in general. Or if there were a lot of wiki where people talked about wiki organization, we could link to their TopicNodes? as well. And if there were a wiki on Wiki as well, we could link to that one. They make it so that several topics appear as nodes within a single wiki. So if it's a group thinking about lots of topics, or an individual keeping notes on lots of topics; it all binds together.

WikiNodes is about mapping communities, TopicNodes? is about mapping topics.

Granularity in TopicNodes

A TopicNode generally appears when you have, say, 5 pages on a subject, and someone thinks, "We should string these together, and place them on our TopicNode network."

Participants on wiki seem to know when to do this. What more can we say?

Naming TopicNodes

Category tags are usually named with "Category" at the beginning. We could name TopicNodes? "fooNode."

In our experience here, though, TopicNodes? seem to be graduated Category pages, themselves not really Category pages, but rather ForwardIndexes?.

The confusion continues. :) It is hard, at times, to change LinkLanguage.

LionKimbro is, personally speaking, in favor of abandoning "Category" or "Index" or "Node" markers on pages.

"hot issues" topic nodes

When there is a DeepDisagreement about a topic, additional problems may arise in making a node. The comnflicting viewpoints may battle for the conflict of the node, or about who gets linked, and how.

A UniqueDebatePoint is basically a node for a divisive topic (that means it has the additional responsibility of ensuring all parties consider it gives a fair presentation of all relevant points ov view - no easy task).

Another possibility (easier, but maybe not as good for MakingUsWiser) is to have a topic node for each point of view.

See Also: WikiTheGraphOfIdeas


(Note: This page stemmed from WikiNode.)

In Mattis' Words

MattisManzel said:

…I discovered a wiki-node quite different today - plastic-wiki: wiki-node. They think about wiki-nodes as centers of a "deeper thought" on a wiki. When something gets thought about intensely they make a node to get the pages together the thinking is going on and via the node for that theme link to other wiki-nodes of wikis where a similar thinking goes on. That's it I guess. Nodes have to be be named, they should be subnodes to the "central" wiki-node I guess…
Everything must be "rooted". It must be possible to be linked to a content in all different leves of "talk". From "Heidegger for kids" to Heidegger himself ;) It must be possible to dive into a content in different levels of depht. This will be possible via the niki-node and all its sub-nodes. Wiki-node is the sum of all wiki-sub-nodes + wiki-node itself…
Subnodes of subnodes are possible, sure. There is a certain similarity on how the categories get done on different wikis. Subnodes should link to other subnodes on other wikis listung the same category. Or similar ones with an other name. There are many wikis listed in its wiki-node. The deeper you go into the sub-nodes the less and more specific the links become…

I just felt these were particularly nice quotations, and saved them from refactoring out.

In particular, the imagery of rooting content affects me. It should, perhaps, be moved into WikiTheGraphOfIdeas.

Or perhaps we can find a nice picture of Yggdrasil for this page. :)

I like [1], there are many more on yggdrasil

Topic Nodes for Wiki Books?

How should I handle wikibooks ? Some of these "books" are already larger than the less-popular wiki.

I'm tempted to treat each "book" as a seperate wiki.

I'm thinking about giving a couple of books each their own wikinode (or TopicNode), cross-linking that book with a few related wiki.

But AlexSchroeder has just about convinced me to stick with ordinary ForwardIndex. Just keep making wiki pages titled with some topic, and fill that page with stuff relevant to its title. Normal content, and (well-commented) links to related web pages. All kinds of links – local wiki pages, external wiki pages, and non-wiki web pages.

I still don't have a good answer for that question.

Every time I think about it, my brain just keeps bashing against: "Gee, a book is a really poor way to arrange information."

Recreating books within a HyperText always feels to me like- as you said on the phone- using airplanes to collect parts so that you can make a horse carriage.

I don't know. I just don't know.

I can see in the long term how to take care of things like this, you know, 3-5 years down the line. But right now, I'm just not seeing it.

I'd just wait until the sem-web developed a bit more, people made wiki with sem-web capabilities, and wiki get better at publishing and aggregating recentchanges pages, and other link/change suggestion/notification technologies come about.

David, I think both a ForwardIndex and a WikiNode are good, the more ways to understand and traverse wiki, the better off wiki are, I think. I only know of a couple of WikiBooks, do you have links of many? Are they on SwitchWiki? Maybe a TourBusStop for WikiBooks would be good too!

As far as the beating of ones head, I think that what we have been doing is surfing on the closest edge of web technology, and we will continue, with out really knowing where this is going. It is a fun ride though!

Best, MarkDilley

Yes, whenever I stumble across another wiki I make sure it's listed at SwitchWiki.

Jargon: I'll be using the word "book" on this page as shorthand for "a bunch of rough drafts of text and images that are expected to lead to a single printed book on paper".

You seem to be talking about people who set up a single wiki as a way to organize a single book, such as . (What others do you know about ?)

A special tour bus to visit just "book wiki" would be cool. (perhaps it should also include BookShelved ).

Since each book is one wiki, I don't have any problem setting up a single wiki node on each one with links to related wiki books.

But how do I handle that has a dozens of such books ? It is technically one single wiki. However, I'm tempted to treat each book inside it the same as I treat single-book wiki. I'm thinking about giving each book its own wikinode (or TopicNode), cross-linking that book with a few related wiki (perhaps including some single-book wiki).

Why not just Forward Index?

DavidCary had said: "But AlexSchroeder has just about convinced me to stick with ordinary ForwardIndex. Just keep making wiki pages titled with some topic, and fill that page with stuff relevant to its title. Normal content, and (well-commented) links to related web pages. All kinds of links – local wiki pages, external wiki pages, and non-wiki web pages."

I disagree with AlexSchroeder.

I believe it is better to point to other ForwardIndexes?, rather than into their pages. Why? For distribution of work and authority. For the reason the DNS system is distributed, rather than everyone copying hosts.txt (a complete map of all domain names to IP addresses) from computer to computer. (It's not just disk space; It's also a matter of keeping things up-to-date- ChangeFailure.)

We are speaking in the general case here. There are good reasons to occasionally reach from one wiki's ForwardIndex into the non-ForwardIndex pages of another wiki, complete with comment and all.

Keeping track of nodes is far easier than keeping track of their aggregate contents.

It is still an imperfect process: If there are 200 nodes on the exact same subject, you're still going to be traversing 200 nodes. But I think that, when you've reached that point, you probably have 1 or 2 dedicated wiki on the subject (one ring to rule them all,) and people work together to establish some useful hierarchy and organization or whatever.

(Sorry for the belated answer; I believe it's been about 6 months since this was asked..!)

TopicNode (equals) ForwardIndex + CategoryBoundaries + Neighbors

I believe we've already created the TopicNode. Pretty much.


We're only a hair from having functioning TopicNodes?. The only thing that's missing is reciprocation.


I intend to write a page: CrossLinkingWithNeighbors?.

It's about how to establish linkages, and about difficulties negotiating with amorphous communities (such as C2, in my experience).

It'll probably be a good place to retell stories of wiki-noding.

It'll also tell about when not to cross-link neighbors.

It's relevant to TopicNodes?, because TopicNode requires InterCommunityCooperation when it transcends the boundary of just one wiki.

Meatball recently had some cool pages on marketing communities and establishing relationships with neighboring communities. This should tie in with those pages.


I just want to point out:

I'd really like some discussion (and, if we're so fortunate, closure,) on the conversation between myself, DavidCary, and AlexSchroeder, about ForwardIndexes? and TopicNodes?.

I only know of a couple of WikiBooks

Yes, what are they ? I think I would enjoy a TourBus view of them all. So far the only wiki that seem relevant are

Perhaps this is premature, but maybe that tour of WikiBooks will grow so big we should eventually split into a "fiction" WikiBook? tour (including Metaweb and Ishtar) and a "non-fiction" tour (including the vast majority of the books).

(Apologies for the off-topic note – is there a better wiki for talking about this ?)


Define external redirect: WikiNodesNetwork Metaweb ForwardIndexes WikiBook TopicNodes CrossLinkingWithNeighbors WikiSpamNode

EditNearLinks: WardsWiki WikiCommunity TourBusStop SwitchWiki HyperText CategoriesAndTopics WikiBooks MeatballWiki TourBus BookShelved PageClusters WikiNodes