WikiWeblog

A “WikiWeblog,” aka a “Bliki,” is a hybrid model wiki + weblog.

Several CommunityWiki members have blikis, you can see them listed on the SideBar. LionKimbro differs, and keeps a blog.

Some questions, while we don’t have answers:

Engineers notice a lot of similarity between WikiAndBlog content models. Often engineers think: “This should be the same software!”

What is Similar?

The basic data is obviously similar: Text written by humans.

What's Different?

The affordances (WhatIsAffordance) are all different

The software reflects the intention. What’s the AppropriateMedium? for the intended use?

Even just within wiki, we have fracture: DocViewThreadViewSplit? in the MediaWiki affords maintaining encyclopedic entries, which relies on clean presentation, but is bad for TheoryBuilding, which relies on frequently pulling content straight from the ThreadMode into the DocumentMode, and for which dialog can be just as insightful as finished product.

If intention in blog and wiki are sufficiently different, that their separation as mediums is justified. This extends to various hybrid models: The specific feature mix is justified by the intentions of the designers. (Or not, hah!)

What Can be Shared?

We totally want to be able to easily connect wiki & blog.

But it’s not clear that they should be the same.

See also

Discussion

Not sure if everyone here agrees or not…

…I do want to push this forward, though; I think this is true.

I am impressed by AlexSchroeder’s awesome (and successful!) efforts to bring us the advantages of blogs to this wiki.

We now have:

  • a separate RSS feed, for the FrontPage
  • clips from our articles, in that RSS feed, and on the FrontPage
  • a SideBar! …and our names! …and neighbors!

So it’s really cool.

But, the FrontPage is not a blog, and we should not kid ourselves that it is one.

For example, I don’t see anybody commenting on our blog, though I know we have readers.

(That is: It is not possible to comment on our blog..!)

True enough, but on my homepage I have comment pages enabled and people do comment. It was therefore a design choice to not have comment pages, which we might want to reconsider if we actually wanted to be more blog-like. Thus we now have: “FrontPage is not a blog, and we should not kid ourselves that it is one.” And we could have: “FrontPage is a blog, and we can work on the missing features.”

I’m not convinced by your difference between blogs and wikis because a. nobody really invested enough design time, b. all your points could be matched if somebody wanted to.

  • In a blog, there’s no RecentChanges link, because the blog is essentially RecentChanges with full page content. The same can be achieved with journal pages in Oddmuse, for example. [1]
  • In a blog, time-ordered archives are typical. The same can be done with wikis. [2]
  • In a blog, there are typical ways of connecting comments to posts. And similarly, comment pages on a wiki are connected to their main pages in typical ways.
  • In a blog, the author (of which there is usually just one) of a post is given prominent mention. Then again, MediaWiki installations typically list all authors at the bottom of a page.
  • In a blog, comments are not rewritten or changed by others. Sometimes they are, however, and social conventions have evolved to mark these changes since old revisions of the posts are usually not available. Thus, either these conventions are not needed on wikis, or they could be imitated. At the moment, nearly all wikis provide a page diff, just as nearly all blogs support INS and DEL tags. Many feed readers have problems distinguishing new from updated articles however, so there is additional pressure to not edit articles. That doesn’t mean people don’t want to. It just means that current blogs make it hard to, and it is not clear whether this is intended.
  • In a blog, comments are timestamped, and there is a standard entry form for the sorts of things people want to know about the speaker. But similar fields can be added for wiki pages. [3]

Completely ignore all technical limitations;

You can implement an idea the moment you think about it;

I assert that blogs and wiki are radically different beasts.

  • “The blog is essentially RecentChanges with full page content.” – no; when you make a minor edit to a page from the past in a blog; it doesn’t rush into the foreground
  • “(Making a time-ordered archive) can be done with wikis.” – yes, but we don’t; it’s not our intention for the wiki to be viewed chronologically
  • “comment pages on a wiki are connected to their main pages in typical ways.” – yes, but we don’t like separate comment pages
  • “Then again, MediaWiki installations typically list all authors at the bottom of a page.” – ?? (where?) (For example, the bottom of http://wikitravel.org/ )
  • (You could let people edit each other’s comments on a blog.) – Yes, you could, but, this is a fundamental trade-off: Either you permit it, or you don’t, and depending on how you answer that, you get different benefits or losses. It happens that blogs don’t, likely because of how they want things to go. Likely, blog authors and comment writers on blogs do not want to feel they have to police to make sure that their comments are still seen in the same context, and still say what they originally meant.
  • “…similar fields can be added for wiki pages. [4]” – yes, they could, but we don’t necessarily want to spend “UserInterface FeatureKarma” on that.
  • Every single thing you could do to a wiki, you could do to a blog. Granted!
  • Every single thing you could do to a blog, you could do to a wiki. Granted!

Now let’s step back, and ask ourselves: “What is the ideal form to meet our intent?”

A feature that is not present is, frequently, in many cases, a positive feature.

When I go to the WordPress website, I can’t add an article of my own. This is a good thing. Blog software often has intricate permission systems. This is a good thing.

Blogs don’t show prominantly featured “RecentChanges” pages, detailing spelling corrections and what not. This is a good thing.

Whenever you have a “blog” that features those two things, (just more or less picked off the top of my head,) you have a less good blog than if you did not have those two things.

Or perhaps I’m not looking to say “a less good blog.” What I am saying is that: You have a very different thing. When you simply do not permit others to create pages, you make it unspeakably clear that this is your place, and not another’s. It leaves a sub-conscious impression.

When you simply do not have a RecentChanges button, then you never expose your reader to little nitpick edits, spelling differences, and what not. This, too, is part of setting the relationship.

I’ve just chosen two, off the top of my head, but there are countless other little differences between blogs and wiki.

Within the genre that is blogs, there is great variation. Within wiki, there is great variation.

There are subtle differences in intent, made manifest through the UserInterface.

I remember realizing recently, that MediaWiki does not lend itself to TheoryBuilding! That is, if you are using MediaWiki, as it comes by default, you naturally gravitate to making encyclopedic content.

Because there’s a “talk” page, and it’s so obviously built into the system of the page, and the talk doesn’t show up when the page does, and vice versa. But when we’re doing TheoryBuilding, the talk is often more important than the page, even. (There are other reasons; I have not fully articulated this to myself yet.)

When we think about a wiki, vs. a blog, and look at it from the angle of intent, then it becomes very clear that there are big differences. And then when we consider all the different ways that the UserInterface either supports, or detracts, from said intent: Then we can zoom in on the subtleties, and they appear in stark contrast.

I guess my problem with your way of analyzing the difference between blogs and wikis looks as if you recognize them as two good systems that are specialized for two different tasks, and then go about identifying the features that help you perform these two tasks, and then say that this was the intent of the designers. And that’s not how I see it: I see two sets of features, both ill-suited for some kind of perfect personal publishing and communication system that we haven’t fully discovered yet. So I’m saying that there is still room for improvement, and that my personal publishing and interaction system will have blog features, and wiki features, and IRC features, and I don’t believe in keeping the two separate. On the contrary, designers are required to think about the features, their affordances, the intents of users, and to improve existing systems. The work is far from over.

And I’m so glad you’ve incorporated all these concepts from the blog world into OddMuse. Otherwise, we’d still be without a SideBar, which I LOVE, and the FrontPage, which I go and brag about on other wiki. 😊 I’d like to see more wiki do the syndication thing, because then it’d be easier for me to keep up with them.

But, don’t you think that, say, WordPress, has some things about it that make it a better blog engine, than OddMuse?

Or, how about PhpBB?? Don’t you think it’s better at forums, for example, than OddMuse?

Yes, WordPress is the better blog engine, and PhpBB is the better forum engine – I agree with that. But my point was that I’m looking for a perfect personal publishing and communication system – I don’t want a blog, I don’t want a forum, I don’t want a bare-bones wiki. I want it all, and more, and better.

I want some features because I like the social pressures they build up, some features because I like the social guidelines they provide, some features for archiving, some features for interaction, some features for ranting, some features for bonding, and I want to get rid of all the other limitations that just get in my way.

In other words: You say it makes sense to keep blogs and wikis (and forums?) separate, because they all fit into their niche, and their feature-set is well adapted to their task. And I’m saying that the task is ill-chosen, that we have different needs that we can’t fullfil using the software in their respective niches, no matter how well their features fit the niche.

What do you mean when you say that the task is ill-chosen?

I mean to say that blogs and wikis have features well adapted to a task that I don’t want to perform. The task I want to perform goes beyond what blogs and wikis do.

Do you mean: Authoring pages, and linking to them from the equivalent of a blog post? (Which is presently very hard in, say, WordPress?)

I don’t think we’re ready to give the final list of features my perfect personal publishing and communication system will have. All I know that neither wiki nor blog fit the bill.

I agree; I don’t think either Wiki or Blog form the perfect DevelopersVirtualWorld.

What’s important to me is that the DocumentMode on this page represents your perspective, and mine as well, even if they are different.

So, what should it say?

I want something in there that says: “This isn’t necessarily a good idea. It’s not that there isn’t overlap in the model, but that the UserInterface is made for different things.”

And I think (this is just my estimation) that you want to say: “The bliki is an interesting hybrid form, that meets some interests better than other things.”

And then it’s just a matter of putting some meat on it, and explaining out what we mean. I suspect we differ in points, and we can have those points.

I can do all the writing, if you are’t interested in writing it: You can just give me little corrections, when I misrepresent what you think.

(Is this okay?)

One thing I think is important, is that you’re focusing on the task that you want to perform.

Let me divide it into two parts:

  • There’s the task you want to perform, as in: “I’m putting this on the web. I’m publishing this.”
  • There’s the other task you want to perform, as in: “I want people to read this. I want people to be able to see this.”

I think that as far as your personal entry, the Bliki is a real time-saver.

But I feel that these bliki’s seem more “rough” to people who aren’t the person entering.

Now, I think it’s cool that your dad reads your blog. That’s great, and shows that the form can work.

But I wonder: “Does everyone find it so intuitive?”

Would BoingBoing be better served with a Bliki? I’m not so sure. Are you?

If a bliki works for you, but not for BoingBoing, why is that? That’s what I want to understand.

I really like “SpecializedSoftware?.” I like the feel of software that is made for a particular task, or a particular setting. I like the concept of BlendedTechnology?, of gendered software, of culturally adjusted programs, as in MetaphysicalCode.

The bliki strikes me as an effort towards universalization, and that gives me pause, because I know that there is value in the customization and in the niche.

I am OpenMinded to the idea that perhaps this is a place where we should “go universal.” Perhaps most blogs would benefit from being bliki, instead. But I’d like to understand why, and I’d like to see some of my concerns about why blogs would be better just being blogs, and not bliki, be addressed.

A lot of blogs have a lot of polish. Wiki tend to be rough hewn. Focus on polish, itself, has been a focus of blogs from the beginning. For wiki, that thread is a latecomer. I’m not so sure that it’s just a matter of “style,” I think that there are features of wiki that really don’t belong on a blog. For instance, spelling corrections: Do visitors benefit from even being offered the choice (TooManyChoices) of looking through all your spelling corrections?

This is what I mean, and this is some of the nature of my skepticism.

I agree that specialized software is good. I don’t want to make the same kind of choices over and over again. So yes, there’s value in customization, or in software adapting to your usage patterns automatically. At the time I did not agree with the assertion that we have the need for exactly two kinds of specializations. All the wikis I run benefit from news about the site on DatePages, easy entry, etc. My Oddmuse manual site and my homepage benefit from separate CommentPages. For many big blogs, I never read the comments. Some authors want to make sure nobody touches their words because they are controversial, and consequentially, they want their own posts locked.

I’m not arguing that everybody needs wiki features and blog features. I’m arguing against the point of view that the separation into “wikis” and “blogs” is good thing, something people want, maybe the natural result of an evolution. Certainly I want some wiki features, and I want some blog features for myself. My dad, on the other hand, doesn’t need too many wiki features. But at least I’m glad I can fix his spelling mistakes, and correct his markup.

Specialized software, yes.

Wikis, blogs, and nothing in between, no.

The thing I see about this Lion is that sure, I would like specialized software, but as Alex is saying, we don’t have the right software yet to be specialized. We have incomplete software. It frustrates me not to be able to pop into someones weblog and make a link/comment/correction. Weblogs took off because of the simplicity of publishing and the look. The wiki idea is something that people just don’t get off hand. Do minor edits have to have a feed? No. These things that you are talking about are choices - not design problems. Are you looking for a place to have finalized content? Weblogs have held that spot between the two, but I don’t see what is useful about that. I would love a weblog that was not time controlled, but namespace controlled. e.g. when I make a change to a post it goes to the top of the weblog, instead of being time stamped anchored forever. I think it would help contain information instead of it just being spewed backwards. Clumps of interest and information would emerge.

What’s useful about finalized content? Trust. You know it’s not going to change, so you don’t have to babysit it. And when you link to it, it’s more likely it’s going to say what you think it says.

This is why I argue for ConnectionPoint: a whiteboard space beneath the blog post, or beside the mailing list record. For the spelling correction & suggested edits, HalfWiki. We are squarely in the domain of permission systems, here.

Another benefit of finalized content is resiliance to ChangeFailure. Specifically: When content is organized by date, emphatically not in the “MeatballWiki:WikiNow,” then there is no pressure or obligation to update it. Few are confused. Because your software says: “Look, this was written, 2001. Nobody’s touched a hair on it sense then.” People get the message because all of the entries are like that. You don’t have to go check a history, you don’t have to go look at the bottom of the page. You can just see it, it’s there.

“Oh, but I can make a wiki do that.” Yep! You could! But you know what? You’d have something different then, not necessarily better. I’m sure it would be better for some things. But I’m also sure it would be worse at others. The Meatball people like the WikiNow. It turns out that there are some places where that’s the AppropriateTechnology.

Alex: Let’s say there’s a map of all possible communication and collaboration software. I suspect that wiki and blogs, with all there variations, are like two big lumps on the map, like strange attractors. We will never know, but I have a metaphysical belief that they are like resonant frequencies within the possibility space.

IdeasLikeStarsAndSymphonies: We zoom in on the ideas, and we find difference, and new territories. In the space between the Wiki & the Blog, we find the Bliki.

A lot of people are excited by the idea, and, good neuron of the GlobalBrain that I am, I thus stop and pause: Is this just the ingredient of Universalism taken too far? I think I can see cases where a Blog, just a blog, is actually better. But the question of how many people are better served by a Blog, or a Bliki, is not something I know. I want to wait and feel it out more, rather than saying: “This is the next thing, this is the better thing.”

Blogs, wiki, bliki, and they myriad things between, around, and completely different, are changing yet. In 10 years, this conversation won’t make any sense at all. Some day, it’ll be a DevelopersVirtualWorld, and maybe these concepts and differences will all be obsolete.

I dream of HalfWiki, ConnectionPoint. I dream of SvgWiki?. But I understand why many people like the MailingList, too.

My principle criticism, which I wanted to communicate in WikiWeblogScratch?, is this:

  • Just because we can see similarities between Wiki & Blogs,…
  • …it does not mean, right off the bat, that we’ll be better served by making them into one thing.

I wanted to point out weaknesses in that line of thinking.

I don’t know; It just reminds me of 3-D desktop mania: “3 is bigger than 2, therefor, the 3-D desktop will be that much more productive.” I’m skeptical, until we have full VR, Augmented, or Mixed reality. Even then, I may be skeptical: Vision is primarily 2D. The 3D information is not terribly useful for the virtual tasks we do, most of the time. I have difficulty imagining how it will be better, beyond just thinking in my head: “3 is bigger than 2, so it’s probably better.” I want some insight: I want someone to explain for me how it will be better. I want to be excited, but I have to see it.

Same with the bliki.

I can tell you why a HalfWiki will be cool. I can tell you why a ConnectionPoint will be cool. I can tell you why an SvgWiki? will be cool.

I can see why a Bliki would be cool, but I’m turned off by the negatives. The polish of a bona fida blog system is really cool.

Maybe someone will make dedicated Bliki software, and it’ll be really cool. I hope so, because then I’ll move my blog to be a Bliki. But until the Bliki has the maturity, ease, & polish of the dedicated blog, (of which there are several,) then I am not ready to take that step.

ChristopheDucamp has the most beautiful Bliki I have ever seen. It’s stunning. But why are there all these entries that say “DeletedPage” on the front page? Why is there the option to edit near links on the front page? Why “view other revisions” on the front page?

There is room to grow.

(ChristopheDucamp, I’m very glad and thankful that you’re exploring this territory.)

I would think that, in a bliki, because there is less focus on collaboration, and more focus on presentation, that CleanLinking would be more valued than CamelCase.

So, you know: All these things.

for the record, I am not arguing against finalized content, I am just not sold that a weblog is the best software for that. But that then leads me into my nex thought. We are discussing what is available now. Based on that I understand more of what your concerns are. But my philosophy - BludgeoningTheData - doing what is possible now to pave a path for what could be - is just that. Bliki is not perfect, but I find it darn exciting. Weblogs are gross - feels like time tracked spam - most times. A historical reference for someone never to look back at. I guess I am part of the Meatball WikiNow club, because that feels better to me. I think there are better avenues for finalized content.

Should my best friend Joel Ford be using a blog, or a bliki?

  • Blog: He’s telling me what’s up in his life, and I’m most interested in what’s recent.
  • Bliki: He has an active musical life, and maybe he should keep information about all his gigs together, on one page.
  • Blog: He really doesn’t care. He’s just a guy who wants to tell his friends about what’s up.

“But is it spam?”

  • It’s spam: You’re MarkDilley, and have no idea who this guy is.
  • It’s not spam: You’re LionKimbro, Joel is your best friend who you’ve known since 2nd grade.

When you don’t know Joel, everything he writes is going to be spam, no matter how it’s arranged.

(I know you have no offence; you just don’t know who he is. My point is that it’s not spam if you know the person, and are interested in keeping up with them.)

Not exactly sure how you are referencing spam, but here is my stab at it. It is not spam to MarkDilley because MarkDilley showed up at the site for any number of reasons (FOAF, Content, Music, etc.) so I made it to his site. It is not spam to me, neither is it spam to Joel if I leave a relevant link/comment/correction.

But my philosophy - bludgeoning the data - doing what is possible now to pave a path for what could be - is just that. Bliki is not perfect, but I find it darn exciting.

You are right. I love it.

And now I’m getting excited about Bliki. I just need the bliki software that doesn’t exist yet.

But I’d like to write what I’d like from bliki software. Perhaps on DreamBliki?, or something.

KathrynCramer? has an excellent weblog post here in which she references two things that I thought would be interesting. She describes her weblog: “being tired of writing on a roll of paper towels.”

Also, she is searching for what I think we are discussing here, and she points out that NASA calls it the SensorWeb?.

Used to be to put something on the web you had to first learn HTML, then write the document in an editor of some kind, then figure out how to access the FTP server and your client and get the thing uploaded, a voila! Now, you just click “edit this page” or “write post” and type. Great! So we’re moving forward.

I’m not sold on the bliki concept yet either, haven’t spent much time exploring. Omidyar.net is a place that’s been described by many as having wikis that aren’t as good as wikis, forums that aren’t as good as forums, email that’s not as good as email and search that’s not as good a search. Jack of all trades and master of none? I dunno.

It is cool that at omidyar in the discussions, I can use linking markup to easily link to a workspace (wiki) page in the same (or different) group. There’s no easy way to link to the discussions, however, even though every comment does have a permalink.

I’m writing a paper about blogs and how they can be used to build community. Should I write that on my blog, so my two readers can see how I’m progressing? Or put it in a wiki where other people can help me? Or should I be using a bliki so both are possible?

Mark, do you have the notes we came up with at the Chinese Restaurant? We ought to get those posted.

Mark and I were brainstorming about bliki and PlanetPlanet?. We came up with two ideas. I can only remember one.

I’m editing a page in my bliki. Cool, huh? :-) Anyway, before I save, I have some checkboxes to choose. One is “push to datepage.” This takes the wiki page and makes it into a blog post, just like the CommunityWiki FrontPage. And it’s still just a wiki page, with it’s own title and thus LinkLanguage. So far so good? Okay, now we add some other checkboxes, for the UnionBliki? and the HumanistBliki? and the BicyclingBliki? and … . These check boxes make this post show up transcluded in the datepages of those blikis.

Did I get it, Mark? What was our other idea?

Define external redirect: DreamBliki SensorWeb AppropriateMedium WikiWeblogScratch DocViewThreadViewSplit PlanetPlanet BlendedTechnology BicyclingBliki HumanistBliki KathrynCramer SvgWiki BuildingTheory WikiUserInterface UnionBliki PhpBB SpecializedSoftware

EditNearLinks: SlashDot MediaWiki CamelCase MailingList DocumentMode CommentPage AppropriateTechnology TrackBack WordPress FeatureKarma UserInterface

Languages:

The same page elsewhere:
MeatBall:WikiWeblog