Trouble with Tribbles – Wiki style

WJIL[reposted from WebJunction Illinois' blog, dated May 3, 2007]

I’m in love with wikis, but I’m starting to feel like the Starship Enterprise isn’t the only vessel being buried. Suddenly, The Trouble with Tribbles is taking on a whole new meaning for me. Am I alone in thinking that wikis are starting to mirror the behavior of tribbles – born pregnant?

I think it is time for some well designed birth control. Within the past year, hundreds of wikis devoted to library topics and resources have sprung forth. Before we continue down this path, it seems like the perfect time to ask some hard questions.

Why is wikipedia so successful? I’d argue that it is due to its comprehensive knowledge base in addition to its devoted author and editor base. If this content was scattered throughout hundreds or thousands of wikis, the effectiveness would be greatly diminished. So why do we insist on creating individual wikis for every project or collection of resources we organize in library wikispace?

Do we really believe in radical trust and shared authorship? In principle, absolutely, in practice – well, I’m not really seeing that as much. We seem nervous to open the floodgates and share wikispace authorship across organizations. It really is much harder to share than to create our own spaces. But, the richness of our content and long-term viability suffer from this approach.

Just some initial thoughts – there will be more along this line as we struggle in Illinois to work within the WebJunction shared wikispace while trying at the same time to develop customized wiki features that require collaboration at the tool level, as well as the content level. It seems easier to just create our own sandbox, but in the long run, we’d rather be playing in the expanse of the beach.

Can tribbles swim?


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