It Is a Wiki Wiki World – By Ross Mayfield and Robert Scoble

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My IBM fellow colleague Steve Castledine has already been weblogging about it earlier on today, but I thought this it is just far too good to miss out on it. So here I am creating a weblog post around one of the most interesting interviews ever done around the subject of wikis, social computing and social software in general. Yes, indeed, check out the recent video interview that Robert Scoble conducted where he gets to interview Ross Mayfield, CEO and co-founder of Socialtext. You would be able to find a reference to it over at Ross’ weblog as well. Yes, I realise that it is a bit over one hour (I think that 30 to 45 minutes would have been sufficient though), but still worth while watching all the way till the end.

In that particular video interview Ross gets to detail a whole bunch of really interesting, educational and enlightening bits and pieces around the worlds of wikis. Yes, he gets to talk a bit about Socialtext so you will get to hear what they are up to, too. However, in that video piece you would be able to see how Ross gets to differentiate, quite effectively, weblogs vs. wikis: "Blogs are about individual voice, collective sense making, a lot better than e-mail". According to him (And I agree 100% with it) weblogs are great as they encourage communication "one to many" and "get some dialogue going". Yes, exactly, what plenty of us have been saying all along: conversations, conversations, conversations.

Wikis on the other hand are all about "group voice". Wikis would be all about a "sense of group memory", which is perhaps what makes them such a great tool for collaboration and knowledge sharing.

From there onwards Ross gets to discuss a bit of Intranet and Internet weblogs. Very much thought-provoking comments and perhaps a subject for another weblog post at some point. I feel that behind the firewall weblogs can be just as exciting as external ones, if you know what to weblog about and how to share that passion across. But again, subject for another entry later on.

I really enjoyed his concept of wikis as another social software tool that tries to help out very much walk away from other traditional collaborative tools, like e-mail. That concept of moving from an isolated inbox to a shared one with lots of "different breadcrumbs of attention that help things bubble up" is just so spot on!

I also enjoyed his differentiation between "blog people" and "wiki people". I guess I would be a hybrid of some kind since I get to use both of them quite extensively, but I can imagine how there may be knowledge workers out there more into weblogs than wikis and vice versa. You have got to check out as well his comments on what differentiates a wiki from a weblog. Priceless!

However, what I really found incredibly interesting and educational was his concept of how to build further up around a wiki. According to Ross the strength of a wiki is that "it starts with a blank page" and then you have to figure out what you are going to do with it. Poke around a bit and realise that you can do lots of interesting things, including lots of informal learning (Insert here a quick very very accurate quotation about some of the work that Jay Cross has been doing around informal learning and which I have discussed over here not long ago, where 80% of all learning in the workplace actually takes place socially and wikis would be great for that, too!).

From here onwards you would get to hear from Ross how he gets to describe the success of Wikipedia; how traditional enterprise systems differentiate from the current social computing movement and to make things even more interesting he gets to detail a very brief history of collaboration where you get to find out about some interesting tidbits on where it all started and where we are. Really nice!

Towards the end of the interview you get to hear from Ross how important trust is for the well being of any wiki and how wiki platforms would now need to do some serious work around the world of standardisation if they would want to succeed in the enterprise world.

And talking about Enterprise 2.0, he also mentioned Andrew McAfee’s definition of that same concept, that although I am sure you are already familiar with it I am just going to place it here for those out there who may not have heard about it just yet: Enterprise 2.0 is "Free form social software adopted by organisations".

Finally, you would get to hear a bit about the (in)famous Web 2.0 bubble and what might actually be happening in the end, including how different we are starting to consider knowledge sharing and collaborating with others with the help of social computing by focusing on rewarding more those who share as opposed to those who hoard knowledge. Quite an interesting thought and something that I would agree with all along. KM is about knowledge sharing and collaborating with others and not about knowledge hoarding, despite what some other folks may well say.

Phew ! And that was it, folks. Those are some of the different highlights from that particular interview of Robert Scoble with Ross Mayfield. Yes, there was a whole lot more said during that hour, but I am just going to leave that to you to go and check it out. As I said, a worth while watch, for sure ! Fantastic stuff, guys ! Thanks for sharing and for enlightening us all a bit more!

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