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The What & Why of WikisCUHK


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NSS Enriching Knowledge for Information and Communication Technology Curriculum

Series: (5) Latest Technologies on 'Internet Services & Applications' and 'Wireless

Computer Network' (CDI020071828)

28 Feb 2008


The What & Why of Wikis CUHK

February 28, 2008

Irwin King

Computer Science & Engineering The Chinese University of Hong Kong


Today’s Outline

• Web 1.0 vs Web 2.0

• Why Wikis?

• What are Wikis?

• Wiki-related Issues

• Concluding remarks


Web 1.0 vs Web 2.0

• A term proposed by Tim O’Reilly to describe the contemporary web

Modern way of using it

New tide of web applications

“Second generation” web


Web 1.0 vs Web 2.0

Social network Sales channel

Free information Fee-based advertising

Audiences = Authors B2B and B2C

User-contributed Company-oriented

As a platform/tool As a book/magazine

Blog, wiki, wikis Website,

encyclopedia, CMS

AJAX, CSS HTML, Java, Flash

Web 2.0 Web 1.0



Web 2.0 Meme Map



Web as a medium vs. Web as a platform

Technology-centric vs. User-centric

Individualistic vs. Group/Collective Behavior

Consumer vs. Producer

Transactional vs. Relational

Restrictive vs. Empowerment

Top-down vs. Bottom-up

People-to-Machine vs. People-to-People

Search & browse vs. Publish & subscribe

Closed application vs. Service-oriented services

Functionality vs. Utility

Data vs. Value


Frustrated About Workflow At Work?

• Information can’t be shared easily

• Information can’t be managed easily

• Revision can’t be recorded easily

• Applications are inflexible and not easily extended


How About Wikis?

• 1995: Ward Cunningham created the first wiki, http://c2.com

Inspired by Apple’s HyperCard


Wikiwiki is a Hawaiian to mean quick

• Wiki is closer to the original idea of web by Tim Berners-Lee: More like a notepad than a book

• Wiki = Wikipedia - pedia (knowledge content)


Wiki’s Advantages


Open source

Collaborative document management

Decentralized control of centralized data

Simple to set-up & maintain

Simple to edit

Indexable and searchable

Revision control


Flexible structure (ontology)


Corporate Success Stories

Nokia has been using Socialtext wiki software for a year and a half to facilitate information exchange within its Insight & Foresight


Yahoo uses Twiki software to help its development team overcome the problems associated with working from a variety of separate locations.

Michelin China also uses Twiki as a knowledge management tool.

Jean-Noel Simonnet, from the company's IT department, writes,

"Our purpose was to share ALL the information, procedures, setup documents, so that we were less dependent on a particular staff member knowledge, so that nobody in the team has any document left in a personal directory.”

Kodak, Cingular, Disney, Motorola, and SAP are also among the notable companies with wiki success stories.


Wiki’s Checklist

Consider if

To establish a company intranet

quickly and cheaply without sacrificing functionality, security, or durability

To publish a range of corporate documents in one universally

accessible location and let employees manage those documents with a

minimum of effort, lag, and risk of redundancy

To manage and organize meeting notes, team agendas, and company calendars.

Need a project management tool that is cheap (if not free), extensible, and accessible through any Web browser.

Need a central location where shared documents can be viewed and revised by a large and/or dispersed team.

Might not be useful if

Need to use complex file formats.

Some wiki platforms can support only text or HTML files.

Don't have a staff member who can take responsibility for its use. A wiki is only as good as its ontology (or the search engine it uses). You will need somebody who can establish

conventions for naming pages and maintaining links.

The collaborative format isn't appropriate for your group or

workplace. Peer review is not always the best solution for content


Looking for an exchange of views.

Wikis are not the best tool for airing opinions or carrying on conversations.

If that's your primary goal, use a blog instead.


How About Wikipedia?

2001: Jimmy Wales and

Larry Sanger launched Wikipedia, http://wikipedia.org

The largest and most famous project using wiki in the world

Dec 2005: 50,000th Chinese article

Mar 2006: 1 millionth English article

1.34 million independent articles (excluding translations)

13.6 edits per page in average

> 2 million wikipedians

9000 requests per second

> 700Mbit/s outgoing traffic


What Is A Wiki?

• Wiki is defined as “the simplest online database that could possibly work.”

• Wiki is a set of web pages that anyone--or at least anyone with permission--can create or edit

• Wiki is an engine to convert wiki text into HTML

• There are many variant of wiki engines:

UseMod, Kwiki, Twiki, MoinMoin, PmWiki, MediaWiki, DokuWiki, …


Variety of Wikis


Comparing Wikis


Significance of Wiki

• Separating content from presentation

CSS: To take care

of the style and layout

Wiki: A compact and clean way to write the content in plain text format


Strength of Wiki Text

Fewer elements

easier to learn

Unique representation

less confusing to edit

Clean and compact

easy to read and edit


easy for machine to format it, and

encourages the use of CSS


Strength of Wiki Engines

• Plain text-based

Easier to search, index and do statistics

Cost-effective to archive the content

• Change log

Plain text makes us easier to find changes

Easier to do version control


Strength of Wiki Engines

• Change log and differences


Strength of Wiki Engines

• Extensible using templates and plug-ins


Strength of Wiki Engines

• Browser is the one-stop solution

Can do all these:

Reading, editing, previewing, access control, management, archiving, etc.

Changes are instant and direct

Shortened the revision cycle


Wiki Applications

• Course homepages

Easier to update and do minor editing (e.g. homeworks, lecture notes)

Reduce the workload on homepage maintainence

• Conference homepages

Facilitates two-way communication and discussion on research

Example: http://sigcomm06.stanford.edu/discussion/


Wiki Applications

• Documentation and Collaboration

Distributed working style

Knowledge management and sharing

Timely updating

Revision control

Example: Gentoo Linux Wiki


Business Tools


Started by the co-founders of Excite

A cross between a wiki and a database

Not open-source

Additional features to handle forms and external data


Based on the open-source Kwiki

Ships a standalone appliance with software installed


Composed of almost exclusively of open-source libraries

Provides licensees with the source code









• Wiki is a powerful information collaboration platform on the web

• Harness collective intelligence to collect, manipulate, mange, and share information

• It is searchable and indexable

• It is flexible and extensible



How To Use Wikis For Business, InformationWeek, August 8, 2005.



WWW could mean worldwide wiki, C/Net News, July 17, 2006.


Wikis: A Killer Collaboration Tool, ITBusinessEdge, Jan. 3, 2006.


Wikis get down to business, C/Net News, July 25, 2006.

http://news.com.com/Wikis+get+down+to+business/2009- 1038_3-6098200.html



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