Tag Archives: Wiki

Wikis vs The Usability of Online Document Editors

I have just had a quick play with site builder WetPaint, and made this… everythingability page. I was impressed with the tools but it really got me thinking about the future of wikis. Do wikis have a future at all given certain developments in online document editing? Factors such as…

  • Wiki syntax is meant to be simple but always ends up not so. Online WYSYIWYG Web2.0 tools are getting better/easier to use than any wiki syntax ever could be
  • People always need layout… eventually. Of course you can start an raw text but as soon as you have more than 20 pages you start to want to be able to navigate both your site and the length information contained.
  • Most wikis need moderation, the idea of “anyone can edit this page” doesn’t work in the real world… unless you are Wikipedia I guess… and even then….
  • Tools are starting to appear that take into account that fact that people want to create networks of information not pages. That’s traditionally where wikis have always been strongest (over online document editing tools) but they are now losing that ground.

As WYSIWYG editors are getting better and better, they are stealing wiki concepts along the way. If they steal enough what IS a wiki (versioning, collaboration etc.) then what IS an online editor/CMS and what IS a wiki will become difficult to call.

All online document editors, including Writely, FCKEditor, TinyMCE or WetPaint or any of the many others have failed to steal the wiki’s crown jewels, namely, the WikiWord.

The WikiWord is there to be stolen. It’s not big but it is clever… very clever indeed.

A WikiWord is a beautiful and magical thing that means you don’t need to copy URLs (as well as the link text) when creating links…this lets you link to things on-the-fly… quickly… and a lot of the time it is not the information that is most important, it’s the links between items that is important….

A WikiWord let’s you create-going-forward (rather than having to leave a page to create the page you want to link to then go back to the original page and create a link to the page that you just created).

A WikiWord lets you add links (or place-holders saying “we need to create this later”) in the text, not using a tool, you don’t have to change “mode” from keyboard to mouse… the place-holder factor needs playing-up, it is hugely important…
The first online editor to assimilate the WikiWord ( and therefore a network-information editor rather than a document-centric editor) will be hugely successful.  All the editor would need is…

  • a hook so that WikiWords can be recognised as you type (so the editor needs to know it’s own information context, in other words, no document is an island… )
  • a hook that handles what to do when clicked (create a new resource or go to the named resource)

… once you have that… this editor could be dropped into WordPress, Blogger or GMail or any custom CMS. It would change the way we blog, how we communicate or create online information. It would mean that more information was “better linked”

What’s in a Wiki?

Having visited Campaigns Wikia, I was just thinking, a wiki isn’t a technology at all, it’s an online promise to maintain, promote and actually contribute to a wiki. It’s a public shared agreement.

When a wiki is is used often, keeping it tidy isn’t a chore, it kind of gets done as and when. If lots of people are involved (and committed) it instantly alters the possibilities and opportunities.

Obvious…

MicroWiki

For a day or so, I have used MicroWiki, but found that after 4 days nobody has replied to my support questions which for me are all show stoppers.

What I really liked about microwiki was how well it could integrate with WordPress… but every time I edit a page it extra-escapes the quote marks… hell even the microwiki pages has the same problem…. “Click the \\\”log in now\\\” l”

VoodooPadtastic

I’ve been using VoodooPad for day now and it’s bloody brilliant. I have managed to get an AppleScript and a Python plugin working that takes the content of a wiki and publishes it on Blogger which I think has lots of potential.

It needs some work… ahem.. for example, I am going to have to do some work making sure that when splatted to Blogger that the site still has relevant naviagtion, that the wiki isn’t blogged to death and presented linearly (if you get what I mean).

I may need to use WordPress instead of Blogger because the API is richer, but I like the idea of using Blogger as a data-storage… don’t ask…

I was so taken with this product, I bought a copy… and then started rummaging around on eBay for a graphics tablet. I want to doodle!