It’s almost unimaginable to live without the internet in today’s era, everything we need and want is practically available on the World Wide Web. It has become a necessity to our daily activities that we significantly rely on it. What was it like when you didn’t have any internet connection or days when the internet connection was plain sluggish? Did it feel like you were isolated from the world even thought it was only temporary? I certainly know I did! It’s not something I would want to happen on a regular basis. Not having that ability to access information from a few mouse clicks away would be miserable. For instance, accessing information from a Wiki page has somewhat become an important part of the internet for many users. A wiki allows organizations to harness the collective intelligence of its users and many other organizations are realizing the benefits of what it could deliver.
So what exactly is a wiki?
Many people have different perspectives towards the idea of what a Wiki really is, but whatever it is, a Wiki is a software that handles complex problems with simple solutions. There are a multitude of readily available Wiki software’s such as, MediaWiki, DokuWiki, PmWiki, WikkaWiki, Twiki, Wikipedia, and many more. It is a Web page that can be viewed and modified by anyone who has a web browser and internet connection. This means that any visitor has the ability to change its content if they desire. Although the potential for mischief exists, Wikis can be surprisingly robust, open-ended, and collaborative. Furthermore, a Wiki page has the ability to incorporate sounds, movies, and pictures; they may prove to be a simple tool to create multimedia presentations and simple digital stories (Educause, 2005).
Using Wikis within an enterprise
I’m sure you’ve all heard of the infamous Walt Disney Company. It’s been around for a hundred years now, and today it has made an annual revenue of approximately U.S. $35 billion (Walt Disney, 2010). Throughout its development, communication plays a vital role in its ever-growing company. As a result, Disney has implemented their very own DisneyWiki to enhance their collaboration towards their work. The DisneyWiki allows users to search, create and edit articles on Disney and its subsidiaries: theme parks, film companies, television networks, films, characters, and more. This sort of collaboration has allowed not only employees, but people from all over the world to contribute ideas towards their Wiki page. DisneyWiki encourages people to work together to create a comprehensive database for its Disney fans. There are no limitations on the articles, everyone has the ability to access and add value towards it. Disney wants their database to grow and evolve with the involvement of academics such as, student involvement, group activities, and so on. Already, they are as many as 3,354 articles since May 8, 2005. Additionally, Walt Disney has other Wiki pages that cater specifically for different divisions of their entertainment channels, some of which are, PixarWiki and DisneyChannelWiki.
What’s so good about wikis?
The administrator of DisneyWiki has a record of the document histories. If any mistakes or vandalism was to occur the admin has the ability to recover specific contents back. In fact, many Wiki pages have the function to conduct a comparison of the changes. It will show the admin the exact changes that editors have made to their articles over time.
There are heaps of Disney characters and listing their specific characteristics can be daunting task. By having a public Wiki, users are able to add or edit information to various articles while having a discussion on whether certain information is feasible.
It’s versatile in such a way that everything about Walt Disney is on its Wiki page. Most of its entertainment shows has its own detailed page. Basically this allows them to keep everything in one place, which is the key to staying organized. Employees within the company can use this page as well in order to remind themselves about certain films or characters.
Most importantly, it’s very simple for users to add contents on a Wiki page as it does not require any sophisticated HTML codes. It uses Simple Markup rules to do all your formatting.
What are the downsides?
In general, it’s hard to distinguish whether the information on a Wiki page is reliable because anyone is able to edit the contents. It may be written by experts, and sometimes written by not-so-much-experts. Verily, DisneyWiki provides excellent information; however it can be a good idea to verify it. Obviously, not everything is unreliable otherwise Wikis wouldn’t be a great source of information. On the contrary, if the information is between life and death, then it’s obviously a wise idea to verify.
Vandalism is another problem; viewers might deliberately edit certain words of a sentence, manipulate the information, or even clear the whole Wiki article.
Here’s an interesting example:
It requires internet/network connectivity to collaborate or access the DisneyWiki, but users are able to save the article in case of any unexpected incident occurs.
Educause. 2005. 7 Things You Should Know About Wikis
Nations, D. 2010. The Downsides of Wikis: The Dark Side of Community-Based Wikis
The DisneyWiki. 2010. Welcome to The DisneyWiki!
Walt Disney. 2010. Walt Disney – Wikipedia
Personal experience with Wiki
I’ve never really experienced anything significant with using a Wiki really, but it did prove its collaborative capabilities. It’s an excellent way to accomplish a group task because it enables the team to track changes, share valuable links, review each other’s work, and monitor team performance. Personally, this saved a lot of time as physical meetings was reduced to once a week, instead of 3-4 times a week. The hassle of constantly organizing my emails was eliminated thanks to the Wiki page. Initially, conversations of group members would annoyingly stack up in my inbox. Thanks Wiki, for being helpful!