Grow Your Wiki

Richard Edelman on the “Conundrum of Media” at WEF 2009

World Economic Forum

Richard Edelman posted observations from the World Economic Forum 2009 on his 6 A.M. blog. They range from Climate Change, Middle East politics and recapitalizing banks without full nationalization to German PM Merkel’s suggestion for a supra-national body of finance ministers (similar to the UN Security Council) that can act quickly and in unison on economic policy.

What I found most interesting were his observations about the so-called “Conundrum of Media”:

  • Distribution is the new hot area (YouTube is now the #2 search vehicle); content, which was king, now is not.
  • There is expectation of free content, which may well mean more consumer-generated and aggregated material improved by democratization. Media companies must provide a “live” experience, allowing more continuous updates. [Read more]

Would You Pay 5¢ to Read This Article?

Walter Isaacson was Jon Stewart’s guest last night on The Daily Show. The two discussed Isaacson’s new article in TIME Magazine: How to Save Your Newspaper.

Isaacson argued that online information shouldn’t be exclusively ad supported, and that journalists should consider a small charge for articles, similar to the iTunes payment system for songs.

Stewart pointed out that people don’t value an article the same way they value a song. A news article generally matters for a shorter period of time, and I’m likely to read it fewer times, but I’ll play a song many times. But a news article does have some value, particularly if it’s a long-form piece that journalist has spent weeks or months researching, as opposed to a one-paragraph news brief. So Stewart’s point is relevant to to price one could charge for an article, but not necessarily the question of whether to charge.

And Isaacson has a point about the viability of relying on one revenue source - advertising - that has weakened in line with the economy: [Read more]

12 Steps to Creating a “Collaboration Café” in Your Wiki

container-coffee-shopFrom End User SharePoint, Lee Reed explains how to build a cafe atmosphere to make your organization’s wiki or SharePoint instance a successful, frequently visited hub. Here are a few of his 12 components:

  • Post Announcements - “Make the announcements short and sweet and include pictures in the announcement…Carefully guard what’s presented in the announcements area so that only pertinent information is shown.”
  • Findability - Information that can’t easily be found is of little use to people. “Make the navigation of your Collaboration Café very shallow; allowing the majority of the information the site contains to be easily accessible from the main page of the site.”
  • Showcase Successes - Create a wiki space specifically to showcase case studies of successful use. This gives people tangible, repeatable ideas when they’re new to using the wiki. “Select one showcase a month and highlight the players that made it possible. Interview and make an audio recording of the people involved and find out why they created the solution as they did.”

Engelbart’s Great Ideas: Why Did Adoption Take 40 Years?

From Harvard Business Publishing, Scott Berkun writes about the day in 1968 when Doug Engelbart demoed the computer mouse, hypertext links, real-time text editing, shared-screen teleconferencing, and more - all technologies we take for granted today - and why it has taken 40 years for them to become so widely used:

One might ask “Why are we so stupid that we can’t adopt good ideas faster?” But the problem isn’t about being smart or stupid. New ideas travel through cultures at much slower rates that we realize, especially if the idea requires 1) throwing something away and replacing it with something else 2) re-learning skills or 3) co-ordination by large independent organizations.

All new ideas gain adoption or face rejection due in part to factors beyond our control. It’s rare for one new idea to entirely replace another — we may very well be using mice and keyboards in the year 2108. That’s because finding better ideas is only the first step. We also need an opportunity to make the change.

How to Find the Right Wiki for Your Project or Organization

Looking for a wiki for your team or organization? Do you need to host it on-site, or would you like one that’s hosted for you and ready to go? Do you need to integrate it with other enterprise tools, like email, SharePoint, or your intranet? These are just a couple of the important questions you’ll likely be asking, and one of the following wiki tools may be the right one for you.

My thanks to the following companies for supporting Future Changes. They all offer high-quality products and services that can help you build a useful, successful wiki. [Read more]

Wiki Content Is Not Sacred, and That’s OK

DeleteThis is from Matt Wiseley of EditMe. Check out their hosted wiki for group collaboration, knowledge sharing and content management, small business web sites, and more. EditMe also offers affordable professional services to customize your wiki. - Stewart

As with any new technology or process, there will be resistance to change. But unlike many organizational changes involving technology, wikis move away from central control rather than toward it. Employees often view IT as a controlling mechanism within the organization, and the procedures and policies involved in using technology at work are typically enforced with strict physical constraints. With traditional content and knowledge management systems, if you shouldn’t edit something, you probably can’t.

These policies, in concert with the read-only web and media outlets that most people are used to, have given a sort of sacredness to published content. [Read more]

Chinese New Year Festival & Parade 2009 - San Francisco


A few photos of the Southwest Airlines Chinese New Year Parade, held earlier this evening in San Francisco. The parade is one of the few remaining night illuminated parades in the United States, and the largest celebration of Asian culture outside of Asia.

Can Wikis Reduce Procrastination Through Transparency?

In How Wikis Mess With Your Mind Mary Abraham points out an excellent reason why people may be compelled to use a wiki at work:

There’s another way in which the transparency of a wiki becomes a powerful tool for productivity. But this works best for a project that isn’t purely voluntary and where the participants are aware of the real consequences of failing to deliver the project on time.

Here’s an example: what if you and your boss set up a wiki to draft a report and then agreed on milestones for moving sections of the report along towards completion. Sure you could leave it until the last minute, but every time the boss came to edit her section of the report, she’d know that you hadn’t done your share.

Knowing that, how long would you be willing to procrastinate? Knowing that she could see exactly what value you were adding every day, how long would you be willing to make only superficial changes?

PBwiki on ‘09 Plans, SharePoint, Wikis for Design Workflow

PBwikiHow do you make a hosted wiki useful and attractive to businesses? How do you do it in a bad economy (hint: discounts like a BlueHost promo code for cheap hosting help), and in an environment where businesses are concerned about the security and privacy of their information?

Chris Yeh, Vice President of Enterprise Marketing at PBwiki, showed me how the company is doing this, what they learned in 2008, and their plans for 2009. I first wrote about PBwiki in 2006, when I interviewed co-founder Ramit Sethi.

Since then, the company has grown to serve a customer base of over 500,000 individual wikis. In December 2008, InformationWeek’s Peter Hagopian said it was the best of the hosted wiki services currently available.

Chris and I discussed PBwiki’s growing focus on business customers. Throughout 2007, they saw steadily increasing business use, and in 2008 they made several key improvements in the company and product to better serve business’ needs. [Read more]

A Challenge to the Open Wiki Ethos

WikitannicaThis is from Matt Wiseley of EditMe. Check out their hosted wiki for group collaboration, content management, small business web sites, and more. EditMe also offers affordable professional services to customize your wiki. - Stewart

The past week has seen two events that put into question the perceived value and validity of open, publicly edited content. Anyone interested in wiki culture and in particular its open and self-moderated nature should take note.

First, Britannica announces that it will begin accepting content from readers via their web site. This change renews obvious comparisons to Wikipedia, which has long surpassed Britannica as the go-to encyclopedia on the web.  Britannica’s strategy is threefold: keep professional editors in place to review submitted content, require full-name identification of readers who submit content, and reward valued submitters with promotion as experts in their field.  [Read more]



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Stewart Mader presenting at Northern Voice 2008 The key to successful wiki adoption is to create the conditions for steady growth. I'll help you plan your strategy, run a pilot, and build a hub for knowledge sharing, collaboration, and project management.

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