Lars Aronsson | 12 Aug 12:25 2006
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Re: CMS/Wiki discussion

James Fournie wrote:

> Wikis are wonderful, but I found that people in positions of 
> authority were uncomfortable with the lack of security and 

This item is always brought up.  I think it is quite natural.  
Wikis started out in a revolutionary branch of software 
engineering, that is: in a turbulent corner of a turbulent world. 
People who are no good at their work can be given less important 
tasks, but Ward Cunningham was dealing with brilliantly clever 
computer programmers who just hated one little part of their job, 
but an important one: writing technical documentation.  Wiki 
turned out to be the right solution for him.  His problem was not 
the manager's need for security and control, and wikis don't 
address that need.  Later, wikis turned out to be useful for 
encyclopedias too.  But the wiki used in Wikipedia is much altered 
from the one Ward used in his programming projects.

But in any case, and this is often missed, wikis are tools for 
creating reference works.  Every page has a title that is used as 
the address for that page.  This is excellent if you're explaining 
what the KeyboardInput and ScreenOutput functions of your computer 
program does, and if you are writing encyclopedic entries for 
[[World War II]] or the [[Russian National Library]].  But for 
many smaller workgroups, wiki pages tend to get meaningless and 
confusing titles like [[TODO]] or [[Things to consider]] or 
[[Ideas from the meeting last week]].  Nobody knows what goes into 
which page and the only difference between the old intranet mess 
and the new wiki mess is that nobody has any excuse any longer for 
not updating and reorganizing the information.  That doesn't mean 
the information gets updated or reorganized.  It certainly doesn't 
get so by itself.  It's only the excuse that has been removed.  
Nowadays people admit spending three hours a day just reading 
their e-mail (ten years ago this seemed like wasted time, and 
people would be ashamed to admit it, now the shame has gone away), 
but how much time can they spend just reorganizing information on 
their workgroup's wiki?

I'm a great fan of wikis.  I'm not saying that a CMS solves these 
problems automatically.  But they are problems you have to 
consider whichever solution you use.

--

-- 
  Lars Aronsson (lars@...)
  Aronsson Datateknik - http://aronsson.se
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