Wikis in plain english

This is a nice little video for explaining to those who do not know or understand what wiki are without using words of more than two syllables. It does not push the theoretical envelope in any way but it is fun to watch all the same.

Capturing workplace knowledge with Drupal

Formally recording what we have learned in the workplace is a worthwhile process that is often forgotten or not undertaken because there is no time or immediate incentive to do so. Web-based technologies such as wikis and blogs have demonstrated that enabling people to quickly publish and publicise their knowledge within their peer group is potentially a very powerful means of undertaking collaborative knowledge capture. This article explores how Drupal, an open-source content management framework can be used to facilitate this process in a community centric manner.

So much to know, so little time

A workplace such as an architecture practice generates a lot of 'on the job' knowledge which at the time can seem obvious or worthless but afterwards can be invaluable. Such knowledge can range from the most appropriate window detail to use in a certain situation, to the most efficient way of modeling that window detail in the office CAD package. Usually these little morsels of knowledge are never formally recorded because it is just more work that typically is not budgeted for, or acknowledged by, management. As a consequence finding an answer to one of the aforementioned questions becomes dependent on your ability to understand the workplace's knowledge topography (i.e. who knows what). But even though it maybe common knowledge in your workplace that Bob has a collection of decent window details or Andrew 'the CAD guy' will help you out, what happens when they are not available, or even worse quit their job to work at the more fashionable architecture practice across town?

DokuWiki - My favourite Wiki tool

Whilst Wiki markup language can be a little intimidating for the novice user it is hard to argue with the overall success of the Wiki concept especially when you take a look at sites like Wikipedia. I have tried a number of Wiki tools but DocuWiki is my favourite for a number of reasons.

Firstly it just seems to work with very little hassle, mainly because it is written in PHP and does not rely on any back-end database, preferring instead to save all data to files on the disk. I also like it because it gets up and running without any major configuration process, if you have the correct PHP extensions loaded and file permissions set it will just work with almost no questions asked. To top it all off if the extensive built in functionality does not meet your needs it can be easily extended through the use of plug-ins as this article illustrates.

On Wrap-ups

A Mash-up in the Web sense is when you grab a bunch of disparate API’s, say Google Maps and live crime statistics and come out with something whose sum is greater than that of its parts (in this example A Wrap-up is my term for the grouping of hyperlinks and tags with a supporting wiki-based summary of the ideas, issues and decisions reached within the identified dataset. In both cases the outcome is of more inherit value than its component pieces. Yet without the individual value of the compontents the end result lacks credibility or interactivity, making the concept as a whole less appealing or conclusive.

As I said in my last post a major issue we were facing in the Reasonate testing was quickly gaining an global overview of a project or individual’s progress without having to read and understand numerous scrapbook-like blog postings. Just to complicate matters these posts are often related to, but not explicit in their overall meaning or relationship to the design’s end goals. Or how I put it more pragmatically last time round:


WikiCalc is a new piece of online software from Dan Bricklin that is attempting to bring the venerable spreadsheet to the Web. NewsForge is running a review of the initial alpha release and it seems pretty good. Recently he was interviewed on the Gillmor Gang about this software and his ideas around it. It is a fairly nice idea now that we live in an Internet full of Ajax and rich interaction. My initial feeling was that he was angling for a Google/Microsoft/Yahoo buyout but surprisingly he has put the source code online for others to download. This is a good thing from a free software perspective and hopefully with the support of others there will soon be a viable (and hopefully embeddable) spreadsheet application for the Web.