Miss Australia for MindTouch

Which one would you pick?

I thought so…

I fully expected to see Miss Australia (my bad!) when Aaron sent me this ink:

And guess what I got: the MIS logo. smile_sad

Oh, well, no babe today, but a good story on MindTouch DekiWiki, nevertheless.


Wiki Review or Rant?

I am deeply interested in wikis, and business oriented ones in particular, in fact was considering doing a fairly detailed comparative study, so I got really excited seeing on twitter that Tom Raftery posted an Enterprise wiki review. Too bad it’s not a review; it’s a rant that lacks any methodology or real comparison.

He goes at length describing the installation nightmare:

The setup of the Confluence wiki was far from straightforward. It took two of us the best part of a day to simply install it. Remember that as I was doing this for [email protected], this was not billable time. I was installing it on my own server and because Confluence requires TomCat as its webserver it had to run on a separate port to Apache. This meant several people couldn’t view it in their organisations.

Sounds to me like a case of bad platform choice. Now, I am by far not as technically inclined as Tom is, and am biased: I won’t touch anything that needs to be installed. That’s what Software as a Service is for. Which, incidentally is an available option for Confluence, so how Tom got into comparing “hard-to-install” Confluence with hosted PBwiki and Socialtext is beyond me – it’s an apples-to-oranges comparison. And there’s not much of a comparison either… here’s all he has to say about two other products:

By the way, I did also try out DekiWiki and Twiki but I ruled them out quite early on.

That’s not a very detailed review, if you ask me. DekiWiki is downloaded about 3000 times a day (!), so some people must like it… even though their acquisition of SocialText was just an April 1 joke. smile_regular

Joke apart, a word on picking the right tool for the right job: perhaps you don’t even need an “enterprise class” wiki for a conference. The official Oracle Wiki is based on Wetpaint, a decidedly consumer and community-focused platform.

My personal takeaway from this to me is to look at PBWiki: when I last checked it out, it was a baby-wiki for some reason popular in geek circles; apparently it has grown up. I’m not sure I will get to do the wiki review I’ve been planning, but in the meantime if Tom decides to write a real one, I am looking forward to reading it.

Update: Tom responded in a comment below. The hosted version of Confluence is NOT available under the community license. He ruled out DekiWiki as when he figured he could not to create Groups. There’s more, please read his comment.


Wiki: the Beauty & the Beast. Usability & Functionality (Event)

Silicon Valley Web Builder will host a wiki-focused event tomorrow, Wednesday. While their first wiki event almost a year ago with JotSpot, Socialtext , Atlassian and WetPaint was more introductory, this time the focus will be on – surprise! – the contrast or harmony of Beauty- i.e. attractive UI, vs. the Beast – functional robustness.

The Moderator for tomorrow is Luke Wroblewski, Yahoo’s design guru who has authored a book on Web interface design principles titled “Site-Seeing: A Visual Approach to Web Usability” and is working on thee next one: “Web Form Design Best Practices”.

The Panelists are:

It’s definitely an interesting mix. Playing a bit with the metaphor, I’d say market leader Atlassian is known as the “beast”: whatever enterprise wiki functionality you can think of, their Confluence will likely have it.

Wetpaint got popular for the “beauty” – that’s why I called it the wiki-less wiki. It’s a most user-friendly self-publishing tool that allows anyone to create a site and transform it into an online community. Incidentally, the SV Web Builder site is built on Wetpaint.

Brainkeeper, a user-friendly enterprise wiki startup took me by surprise when they launched in January. Totally out of left field, they aim to be the beast like Confluence and the beauty like Wetpaint, with twists not seen in wikis, like workflow. I’m really looking forward to seeing how far they’ve got since launch.

MindTouch is transforming the Wiki from the Web’s best collaborative authoring tool into an open source service platform with a Wiki heart. Their Deki Wiki Hayes release is perhaps the most extendable Wiki tool available today.” I had to steal that line from Read/WriteWeb, I couldn’t have said it any bettr – oh, and congrat’s on reaching the 100,000 user mark!

Zoho is not a pure-play wiki player. Their wiki is just a part of a productivity/collaboration suite, and it shows. Beauty? The UI needs improvement, but this is the only wiki with not just simple a WYSIWYG editor, but a full word processor that writes true html, not wiki syntax. Beast? I think the emphasis here will not be on the standalone product, but how well it integrates with other Zoho offerings, supporting a flow-oriented world that matches how we think.

It will no doubt be an interesting event, so please check out the site details, and remember, admission is free if you register online, but $10 at the door. See you tomorrow.

Related posts: Laughing Squid, Lunch 2.0, Functioning Form, Mindtouch, Brainkeeper, Wetpaint, Zoho blogs, Centernetworks.


Wikis are Not Knowledge Management Tools

No, this is not an anti-wiki pitch, that would be highly unlikely coming from me. But I am continually amazed how we tend to focus on features while missing the people factor. Knowledge Management is a prime example. KM projects typically do not fail due to software issues, but for human reasons: lack of input, or GIGO. Yet here’s an excerpt from a white paper by enterprise wiki vendor MindTouch::

Wikis provide a flexible alternative to the rigidity of conventional

knowledge management software.

Why wikis work for knowledge management

Based on the features described above, wikis are a powerful replacement for conventional

knowledge management software, because they make knowledge easier to

capture, find and consume:

a. Capturing information: The information is there. Somewhere. Maybe on

a PC, maybe in a file attached to an email, maybe in someone’s head

undocumented. With a wiki, all documents are stored in one central

repository, and files are uploaded rather than attached to emails. Therefore

information is more likely to be captured, stored and made available for reuse.

b. Finding information: When a user has to search a network file server,

he or she must know exactly where to look. A wiki lets a user search

contextually. In addition, because the structure is not required to be linear—

as with KM software—cross-linking of pages helps users not only find

information, but find relevant information.

c. Consuming information: In addition to finding information more easily with

a wiki, a user finds that information in context, meaning the information

is in a location that gives the user some background and perspective relative

to the data. That enables the user to more quickly comprehend the meaning,

significance and relevance of that piece of information. “

All of the above is true – yet it misses the Big Picture. The real story is not about a better tool, but being able to work differently. When wikis are truly embraced in the enterprise, they don’t just make KM easier; they put it out of it’s misery. Yes, that’s right, the wiki is the end of Knowledge Management as we know it: the after-the-fact collection, organization and redistribution of knowledge objects.

The wiki becomes the primary platform to conduct work, the fabric of everyday business, where people create, collaborate, and in the process capture information. While not a Knowledge Management tool, the wiki resolves the KM-problem as a by-product.

Update (6/15/08): Now we have pretty good terms to describe the above, instead of my clumsy explanation. See the discussion on In-the-Flow and Above-the-Flow wikis by Michael Idinopulos and Ross Mayfield.

Ross Mayfield talks about similar ideas in Manage Knowledgement (MK):

“Turns out, users resisted and the algorithms didn’t match reality. With MK, through blogs and wikis, the principle activity is sharing, driven by social incentives. Contribution is simple and unstructured, isn’t a side activity and there is permission to participate. Intelligence is provided by participants, both through the act of sharing and simply leaving behind breadcrumbs of attention.”

Update (5/1): What Happened to Knowledge Management? – by Stewart Mader