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Collaborative Kickstart

Stafford & Webb's What is a Wiki? along with Chapter 9 of Wikinomics complement each other nicely in setting the stage for our impending work. The Wikinomics tales of Geek Squad innovation, collaboration via BF2 (exaggerated though it may be), and explosive success after joining forces with Best Buy are exciting - especially with our local connection. Best Buy's own initiatives in creating a more horizontal structure for eliciting ideas and expertise from employees at all levels have to be encouraging to even serious skeptics. The application described by Stafford & Webb for production of their book offers us an example much closer to our own scale. Recognizing each of these as (at least conceptually related) manifestations of the core idea of the Wiki, Benkler's commons-based peer production, we have both theoretical and practical ways to proceed. Between this and our existing outlines and timelines, we should have no problem moving forward confidently and productively.

Inadvertently, I actually read Wikinomics Chapter 9 several weeks ago, and since have casually contemplated wiki as a tool, about how it's scalability and openness might enhance some things within my company. This is the week to think critically about it for the class, and in so doing I find that I really like the possibilities. As an interconnected guidebook for our myriad research procedures, as a list of resources organized geographically, and as a metadata repository for our disparate datasets. Tapping in to the individual specialties and experience of each staff member will make the job easier than the current need for separate sets of instructions, scattered spreadsheets, and worst of all, uncodified personal knowledge not shared with any other personnel. For what it's worth, I see wiki as the most immediately valuable of all the tools and concepts we've surveyed in this class so far. I was already looking forward to seeing what we develop in this class, and after this week I'm also looking forward to translating the concept to my "real-world" business.

Comments

Jim, I'd be interested to hear how it goes if you are able to introduce wikis in your workplace.

At Intuit, we have many internal wikis -- just this morning, I updated my team's wiki with ideas we're holding off on (but don't want to lose) until after a site revamp launches.

I've found the biggest barrier to participation is not people unwilling to share, but people not wanting to deal with the peculiarities of wiki syntax. A related issue is, how do I get this Word doc or Excel spreadsheet on the wiki? I have to remember that "don't put it in that format first!" is not helpful, because legacy docs are real. So I concentrate on not creating more of them :)

Thanks for the interest and insight. It'll take some time to scope and implement, but I'll update with any interesting developments.

We have plenty of content for our internal wiki, so yesterday I got moving on software selection. I really liked what I saw from xwiki, and it's Workspaces option that integrates social networking features with the wiki capability itself. It'll take a little more work to build than a simple hosted service, but that just means we'll also be building more technical knowledge within the organization (and saving a lot of money, from the rates I was seeing on a lot of other services).

I'll find out next week if this one will work for us, or if we have to take a different approach.