Jeremy Smith's blog

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Wikis in the Enterprise What the Heck Is a Wiki?

No one understands the wiki, the poor cousin of the blog. But the wiki may end up having a deeper impact on how we do our work. A wiki is a group blog that can be edited by its readers (as opposed to a regular blog, which one person writes and everyone else reads). Wikis are more like conversations...
Instead of drafts of contracts, marketing materials, or lists of potential hires being distributed as e-mail attachments, the information can more simply be posted to a wiki. There, other people on the team, who are all invited to the wiki and have passwords to access it, can read it, add to it, and make corrections if necessary. As chaotic as this may sound, there are built-in safeguards: Every version is saved, and every change can be tracked back to who made it.
"The beauty of a wiki," Mayfield says, "is that it starts like a webpage, then people discover that they can edit it like a Word document."
Mayfield estimates that there are more than 1 million wikis out there, many behind corporate firewalls. "Today every significant enterprise has a wiki deep inside the bowels of its organization. The market is growing at over 200 percent per year, accelerating as wikis get simpler and easier to use, just as blogging did."
Mayfield explains it this way: "Enterprise applications are top-down. They are defined by rigid business rules designed to help coordinate people. The problem is that every time something changes, the process breaks down and we end up e-mailing information that can’t be easily handled with the enterprise application. This causes users to play e-mail volleyball with attachments." ... Just think: How often do you get occupational spam because some yo-yo in the office decides to send a message to everyone in the group every time he makes a change to some document you’re all jointly responsible for? Wouldn’t it be better if he just went to the wiki and made the change without bothering everybody else? And the people who want to be notified when such changes occur can set up alerts to that effect.

The author of the article, Erick Schonfeld, put his money were his mouth is and set the entire article up as a wiki page here, so anyone can add to it as he or she sees fit. And, yes, here in ITS, we have an internal wiki that complements the Case Wiki. Our internal wiki is used in much the manner described in the article. It describes systems' setups and configurations, project planning, project progress documentation, collaborative spaces to discuss the CASEworks initiative, etc. It has provided an invaluable tool.

The only drawback, however, is that the use of the internal wiki has only been adopted by 20-30% of ITS employees. I am not sure what the rest are waiting for?


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    "A wiki is a group blog"

    When did people start calling websites 'blogs'?

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    Could you set up an internal wiki that could be accessed only by a set list of Case users? We have something called the Subnet that serves both Univ Rel and Development. On it we post things like Powerpoint slides with financial data, the President's travel schedule, and other info that is sometimes confidential within these departments.

    Users who have been added to the list can authenticate to view the site, but those who need to add to the site must send their documents to either Kevin or me. This site also used to include a discussion board but it was a bit wobbly.

    Basically the site is due for a major overhaul, but if it were a Wiki it sure would be easier for all of the content generators to post their own stuff. hmmmm.