#16 Learn about wikis and discover some innovative ways that libraries are using them

So far we have explored blogging as a way to quickly and easily publish content to the web. While blogs can be undertaken as collaborative enterprises, a wiki, the 2.0 technology we will be looking at this week, is particularly suited to this task. Let’s explore what wikis are, how they are used, and what features are common to most.

Let’s start with “Wikis in Plain English” another enjoyable video from Common Craft.

A wiki is a collaborative website and authoring tool that allows users to easily add, remove and edit content that can be quickly published to the web. You do not need to know HTML (the language used to create web pages) or know how to use web page building software. Adding content on a wiki is, with just a few variations, just like using word processing software. Although many do allow for the use of HTML editing in addition to Wikitext or Wiki Markup, all you need to edit a wiki is an internet connection and a web browser.

Wikis typically work one of two ways – an open model where anyone is invited to contribute or a closed model where a select group are invited to contribute. Either way, it is an exercise in collaboration and trust – whomever contributes is expected to meet certain standards of quality and accuracy and should expect, should they not reach these standards, that another participant will edit their contributions. The goal is to use a wiki to create a collaborative piece of information, sharing the knowledge of all contributors.

Wikipedia, the online open-community encyclopedia, is the largest and perhaps the most well known of these knowledge sharing tools. Common Craft has created a video about Wikipedia, Wikipedia Explained By Common Craft.

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 share knowledge. Among their applications are pathfinder or subject guide wikis, book review wikis, ALA conference wikis and even library best practices wikis.

Matthew Bejune, author of the article Wikis in Libraries (Information Technology and Libraries, 26(3), 2007, 27-39.) created a companion wiki as a place to learn about and share examples of library wikis. Included are examples of wikis used for:

  1. Collaboration between Libraries
  2. Collaboration between Library Staff
  3. Collaboration between Library Staff and Patrons
  4. Collaboration between Patrons

Some of the benefits that make wikis so attractive are:

  • Anyone (registered or unregistered, if unrestricted) can add, edit or delete content.
  • Users do not need to know HTML in order to add and edit content.
  • Wikis allow you to assign different access permissions to different users. The site creator (Administrator) can assign other Administrators or Moderators to the Wiki. Wikis typically have several levels of contributors with varying degrees of access, such as Admin, Mod, Writer, Registered User, and Guest.
  • Many wikis allow users to subscribe to them either via email or RSS feeds. Some allow users to subscribe to specific pages and keep apprised of recent edits.
  • 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. Many have more advanced edit comparison features that may allow users to compare the changes to an entry over time. Wikis also typically have a revert feature that allows those with sufficient access permissions to, if necessary, rollback a page to an earlier edit.
  • Personalization of user accounts can be quite different from wiki to wiki; some allow for the creation of detail user profiles, private messaging, and commenting upon individual profiles.
  • Many wikis are tiered with both free accounts and ‘premium memberships’ that often have added features such as a higher page limits or greater storage capacity.

There are numerous kinds of “wiki software” or “wiki engines”, these can vary widely in look and functionality. With all the different wiki software to choose from you might have a difficult time deciding which wiki is most suited to your project. A tool you might find useful for comparing the features of various wikis is Wikimatrix. The Wikimatrix website has several useful features for comparing any number of more than 80 wiki engines listed.

Resources:

  • How Stuff Works (a great site if you’ve never checked it out)
  • New York Times article about the decision by the history department at Middlebury College’s to ban citations from Wikipedia in papers and exams.

Exercises:

1. For this exercise, you are asked to take a look at some library-related wikis and blog about your finding. Besides the examples above, here are a few more to get you started:

Wikis as library websites:

And some non-library examples:

2. Create a blog post about your findings. What did you find interesting? Would you use a wiki for information? What are the benefits and drawbacks to finding information this way? What do you like or dislike about using a Wiki? What types of applications within libraries might work well with a wiki?

Optional: For an astute but PG-13 analysis of Wikipedia, here’s Stephen Colbert:

Wikiality:
http://www.comedycentral.com/colbertreport/videos.jhtml?videoId=72347

Wikilobbying
http://www.comedycentral.com/colbertreport/videos.jhtml?videoId=81454

An Interview with Jimmy Wales, founder of Wikipedia:
http://www.comedycentral.com/colbertreport/videos.jhtml?videoId=87528

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10 responses to “

  1. Pingback: Week 9 - Wikis « Vermont’s 23 Things

  2. I love the way the Rebecca Crown Library combines on-line databases with call numbers for their hard print reference books.

  3. Cyndi Candiloro

    I am currently taking the cataloging class with a fellow VT 23 things person and she shared some of the different ways she has updated her library site using the tools we have learned about. This is a great way to get ideas.

  4. Pingback: Lesson 9 - Wikis « Vermont’s 23 Things

  5. [b]Bill Bartmann, Author of “Bailout Riches!” tells How to Make a Fortune Buying Bad Loans[/b]

    Learn how America’s financial crisis becomes an investment opportunity to buy outstanding debts for pennies on the dollar

    Tulsa, OK – How does America’s financial crisis become an investment opportunity? Bill Bartmann, author of the book, Bailout Riches!, explains, “It begins with over $1 trillion dollars in defaulted mortgages, credit card debt and other bad loans being written off and sold to investors for pennies on the dollar.”

    Bill Bartmann’s book provides investors with the right roadmap to spectacular profits with a step by step plan to find deals from the federal government, local financial institutions and loan brokers. The defaulted loans include credit card debt, consumer loans, business loans, commercial loans and real estate loans and mortgages. “It gets better,” said Bartmann. “The book provides a proven system for buying debt without using your own money.”

    Bailout Riches! shows how to invest in the bailout and take your own cut of the trillion dollar pie. Bill Bartmann is an authority on the subject; during the last big-time government bailout Bartmann built his own debt collection company and became a billionaire. “Today’s bailout is much bigger and opportunities for profit are much greater,” said Bartmann.

    When asked why he would share this valuable information with the world, Bill Bartmann answered, “The reason is simple; there’s plenty to go around. In the next year or two around $1 trillion of debt will be written down and sold cheap.”

    Bill Bartmann is the author of Bailout Riches! and the creator of America’s largest debt-buying and debt-collection company. Bill Bartmann has been listed among Forbes Magazine’s 400 wealthiest Americans and has twice been named National Entrepreneur of the Year by USA Today, NASDAQ, Inc Magazine, Ernst & Young and the Kauffman Foundation. Visit http://www.roadtomajorwealth.com

  6. Bill Bartmann Bereillutle

    [b]As Bad Debt Continues to Rise, the Country’s Foremost Authority on Debt Collection, Bill Bartmann, is Back![/b]

    With a New Book Coming Out in May 2009 and Sold-Out Seminars on How to Buy Bad Debt, a Defiant Billionaire Is in High Demand AGAIN

    In June of 1999, the Justice Department brought the largest, best-trained and most efficient debt-collection operation in the world, Commercial Financial Services, Inc. (CFS), founded by Bill Bartmann, to its demise. However, although Bill Bartmann had lost his company, he had not lost his faith. As Wall Street panicked, lawsuits and allegations rained down on Bartmann, the man who Inc. magazine once said had “remade one of the ugliest industries” and who Fortune magazine said had put a “seedy and inefficient industry on the road to respectability.” In December 2003, after eight weeks of testimony from 53 prosecution witnesses, Bartmann was acquitted of the 57-count indictment brought against him in the post-Enron era by former U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft. There was no evidence of wrongdoing found.

    CFS had made its name on its ability to buy delinquent credit card accounts for pennies on the dollar, and then produce nickels, dimes and quarters—an ability the firm eventually took to Wall Street. The accolades and praise for the company never seemed to end: BusinessWeek named it “One of the Top Ten Family Oriented Businesses in the U.S.” while Working Woman said it was one of the “100 Best Companies for Working Mothers.” Inc. magazine called it one of the “500 Fastest Growing Companies in America” for four straight years and the Better Business Bureau gave it the Torch Award for Ethics in the Marketplace.

    Besides amassing a personal fortune, estimated by Inc. to be as high as $3.5 billion, Bartmann was named as one of Forbes’ “400 Wealthiest People in America,” and the National Entrepreneur of the Year by NASDAQ. He was also awarded a permanent place in the Smithsonian Institute’s Museum of American History, for “Visionary Use of Information Technology” that produces positive social, economic and educational change.

    Ironically, 17 months after Bartmann’s acquittal and six-and-a-half years after his company was liquidated, the federal bankruptcy trustee (appointed by the U.S. Bankruptcy Court to liquidate the company, forcing Bartmann into personal bankruptcy) issued a report that publicly acknowledged for the first time that, “CFS was not a fraud.” Four independent expert witnesses hired by the trustee in the civil proceedings later confirmed this report.
    Today, Bartmann just shrugs off the experience that would have embittered most people, and instead is thrilled to have a second opportunity to buy bad debt. This time, however, he is also teaching others what he learned from turning CFS into an empire. (CFS was the first firm of its kind and, to date, remains the most successful debt-collection agency on record).

    As Bartmann says, “I have seen this movie before and I know how to write the ending. Not only was it incredibly profitable, but we changed the way debt was collected in this country. Compassion was never a part of the equation before. While the process of debt collection is obviously more complicated than simply being nice to those suffering, the business model can be extremely lucrative for those who know how to buy the debt.”

    He adds, “The market was terribly inefficient then and it still is now, and there’s a giant spread to be made.” History has documented that he was correct: CFS typically collected more than three times what it paid for a bad loan, pocketing an average of 35¢ on every dollar of debt. Those numbers had never been hit before in the history of the industry—nor have they since.

    Now Bartmann is prepared to do it again, teaching others along the way.

    For more information and a seminar schedule, go to http://www.billbartmann.com

    About Bill Bartmann:
    Bill Bartmann is the “Billionaire Business Coach.” He is the only self-made billionaire who has devoted his life exclusively to teaching others, and is the leading authority on entrepreneurship in America. He has created seven successful businesses in seven different industries, including a $3.5-billion, 3,900-employee international company that he started from his kitchen table with a $13,000 loan. He has been named National Entrepreneur of the Year by NASDAQ, USA Today, Merrill Lynch and the Kauffman Foundation. One of his companies was named in Inc. magazine’s “500 Fastest-Growing Companies in America” for four years in a row. He has been awarded a permanent place in the Smithsonian Institute’s Museum of American History and has also been awarded the American Academy of Achievement’s Golden Plate Award for being one of the Outstanding Achievers of the 20th Century.

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  7. Just a note, Douglas County Library can no longer be accessed this way

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  9. Pingback: NELA Carpooling Opportunities Still Available | Vermont Library Association

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