E L S U A ~ A KM Blog by Luis Suarez

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What Is a Wiki?

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Yes, I know. I am fully aware of it. I realise that you may have heard about that particular term, Wiki, a few times already. Probably many more times that you would care to digest in a single day. I guess you probably have had enough of it already. However, you would agree with me how there is a good amount of folks out there who still keep coming up to you, or to me, asking us to give them the short version of what a wiki is and see if it would be something that their teams, or their communities, would be able to make effective use of. I bet I am not that far off, right? So after having had a couple of folks approaching me this week with that same question I thought I would create a weblog post over here and comment on one of the most compelling videos put together and which clearly relate what wikis are all about that I have bumped into in a long while!

Check out What is a wiki?, over at ZDNet‘s At the Whiteboard, where Joe Kraus, CEO? of Google Jotspot, gets to detail in under four minutes, what wikis are all about and why there is such a big roar about them at the moment. What is interesting about this particular video is how Joe gets to compare one of the most traditional, and perhaps restricted, methods for collaboration: e-mail, with wikis. And I must say that e-mail comes out as everything but the winner. And here is why.

Joe has put together a very compelling business scenario where it shows how much more you would be able to get from collaborating and sharing knowledge in a wiki than through traditional e-mail. Pretty impressive. Specially, because he gets to nail it down to a couple of factors such the success of wikis over e-mail as a much more powerful collaborative environment: visibility and keeping up to date with changes; tasks that you would agree with me e-mail has been very bad at all along.

However, Joe’s point of view is that wikis fix those issues and help you get all of the visibility you would want knowing that the information is always almost up to date. Yes, I am saying almost, because I realise that to have it all of the time up to date is going to prove impossible and not just with this tool but with all knowledge and collaboration tools out there. But it gets pretty close. You know what I mean.

So if you were thinking that e-mail is still one of the most powerful collaborative tools available out there nowadays I think you should also continue to look around elsewhere as well, because it is not the only one and, much more importantly, we actually have got plenty of different options available out there within the social computing realm and which are much more capable of hosting a much richer and meaningful collaborative environment. And wikis are just one of the many examples.

Yes, go and watch Joe Kraus’ video on What is a wiki? and find out in about 4 minutes why you would want to leave e-mail as just another communication tool and think that wikis may be one good answer to help improve your knowledge sharing and collaboration strategies. And if that didn’t help to convince you well enough about the business value from wikis, at least, we would always have the Wikipedia 🙂

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