Friday, April 18, 2008

Thing #16 - Wikis

Wonderful World of Wikis

"Wiki, Wiki" in Hawaiian means quickly. A wiki allows you to work with others to write and organize information. Everyone can be both writer and editor. For your introduction to wikis watch the video from Common Craft below for a really simple explanation:

Wikipedia, the online open-community encyclopedia, is the largest and perhaps the most well known of these knowledge sharing tools. The use and popularity of wikis in businesses, libraries and in online communities is expanding rapidly. Some of the benefits that make wikis so attractive are:

* Anyone (registered or unregistered, if unrestricted) can add, edit or delete content.
* Tracking tools within wikis allow you to easily keep up on what been changed and by whom.
* Earlier versions of a page can be viewed and reinstated when needed.
* No technical background is needed. In most cases a simple editing procedure is used.

As the use of wikis has grown over the last few years, libraries all over the country have begun to use them to collaborate and to share knowledge. Among their applications subject guide wikis, book review wikis, ALA conference wikis, and even library best practices wikis.

Discovery Resources:
Use these resources to learn more about library related wikis:

* Library Bloggers Wiki : a list of library blogs maintained as a wiki
Nancy Pearl's Wiki : a true booklover's wiki from the famous librarian booktalker

* Albany County Public Library's Staff Wiki - a wiki created for library staff to track and document library procedures.

Discovery Exercises:

1. For this discovery exercise, visit the Library Success wiki. It is a best practices library wiki. Did you find anything useful? Did you find anything you didn't like?

2. Visit Ocean County Library's article on Wikipedia. Most people never notice the Discussion and History tabs at the top of each Wikipedia article. They give you important clues on the article's accuracy and currency. Clicking on the Discussion tab in the OCL article, you'll read that Wikipedia made OCL give permission before we could repeat material from our website in the Wikipedia article. Wikipedia really hates copying from other websites without permission.

Click on the history tab on top of the OCL article to see a list of every change made to the article's words or images. Any guesses on what edits were from OCL staff? One staff member changed the description of Sparks from a pink dragon to a magenta dragon, then another staff member added a citation to prove the change correct!

3. Share some of your thoughts on wikis on your Web Challenge blog.


There are many wikis on different topics not connected to work. Examples include a wiki about Star Trek called Memory Alpha, one on cookbooks called Cookbook Wiki and a community based effort about Rochester, NY called RocWiki.

1. Try a Google search to see if there's a wiki on your interests. Google your topic and the word wiki. If you find a wiki that looks interesting, explore it and blog about it.

2. Explore behind the scenes of Wikipedia. Compare the arguments under the Discussion tab in the article on Cow Tipping to the discussions for poet Joyce Kilmer. Really strange things can appear under the discussion tabs in the articles on people in the news. Pick your own celebrity.

Does what you find under the discussion tab or the history tab of a Wikipedia article make you more or less willing to trust the material in an article?

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