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Information & Communication Technology

When will wikis supersede traditional Word Processing?

Marghanita da Cruz's Notes from an Unconference

"When will wikis supersede traditional Word Processing?" was a topic, I proposed for the January 2011 Recent Changes Camp, Unconference, in Canberra. The proposal was prompted by yet another eruption on the AGIMO BLOG over the specification of Microsoft's OOXML standard, in the Australian Government's Common Operating Environment Policy.

Wikis could provide significant productivity and interoperability gains in the corporate environment. The open nature of Wikis and open office software coupled with the scope of HTML5 would enable the integration of presentations (including video and audio) and spreadsheets. Organisations need to consider possible timeframes for these developments in their ICT Strategies. I had hoped to use the session to explore the signposts and timeframe for this evolution.

collage of people sitting around a room , with computers and one person in the middle taking a photoBeing an unconference the Agenda was set in the first session. The setting was Building One at the University of Canberra's Flexible, collaborative meeting, latest learning technology and Lounge area. The close screen projectors and novel "whiteboard" walls worked well.

In contrast, the WiFi didn't work for everyone and the RecentChanges Camp Wiki spat the dummy and locked everyone out. This meant that nothing could be recorded on the RCC wiki, so the unconference was documented on Wikiversity instead.

First Day

The first session, a discussion about Wiki Culture, in the Hothouse, set the scene. Mark Dilley broke the ice by asking the audience "when and what was your first wiki edit". The discussion soon moved onto Wikipedia's editorial policy of Neutrality, which doesn't allow for minority or alternative views; the challenges of arbitrating on the; dealing with rogue game players who set out to test Wikipedia's Governance; and creating a hierarchy of knowledge to enable visitors to come up to speed and experts to explore the esoteric. Also if forking is to become an attractive Wikipedia has to allow links to forks to improve their contextual discoverability and ratings in search engines. The role and lack of visibility (in Wikipedia and as a result ratings in search engines) of specialist Wikis such as Appropedia: The sustainability wiki and Fan History Wiki were also raised.

After a make your own sandwich, refrigerate the leftovers for tomorrow, lunch, the unconference resumed in three streams - with this topic and Printing from Wikis being merged, followed by Appropedia in another room of the Teaching and Learning Commons.

Following afternoon Tea, the last session of the day was shortened to 45 minutes, with the aim of finishing at 17.30 (in Aussie style) rather than 18.30 (in US style). I attended a session on Sources. At the end of the day, some went out to a local restaurant for dinner while others organised their accommodation for the night.

The Hothouse window provided a view of the Canberra College of Advanced Education Foundation Stone dedicated by Prime Minister Gorton on the 8 October 1968 adding a nice touch to this state of the art facility.

So, when will Wikis supersed Traditional WP?

The printed word still appeared to be a strong thread whether it was the quality of the printed document that was produced from Wikibooks or Wikiversity, the need for local printing on demand to avoid postage costs, authors providing scripts to publishers or the scanning of printed documents in Wikisource.

It was suggested that supported commercial wikis were making inroads into corporate environments however, there was resistance as users wanted the extensive features available in Office Products.

The National Library's CITE this approach being held up as the paradigm.

The projects discussed included:

References/Further Reading

  • Back to the Future: Another chance to influence COE development
  • NASCIO Social Media Technology Survey - Connecting Government and Citizens (September 27, 2010)
  • Business Impact of Web 2.0 Technologies
    What do wikis, blogs, podcasts, social networks, virtual worlds, and the rest do for corporate productivity and management? Stephen J. Andriole, Communications of the ACM, Vol. 53 No. 12, Pages 67-79 10.1145/1859204.1859225, full text
  • Wikis In Large Corporations (19 January 2006)viewed 31 Jan 2011
  • Wiki farm 13 January 2011, viewed 31 Jan 2011
  • A Semantic Wiki for Continual Collaborative Information Management PDF July 6, 2008 viewed 31 Jan 2011
  • Sample Wiki Guidelines

    US and Australian Government Policies

    Slide for Lightning Talk to Sydney Linux Users Group

    Friday, 4th February 2011 6pm for a 6:30pm start

    What I did while others were at LCA

    Follow up on AGIMO BLOG

    Marghanita da Cruz says:
    February 2, 2011 at 12:38 pm

    Hi John,

    You response seems to have missed Chris’s point about Operating Systems. Linux and MS Operating System work on the same machines.

    In the past there have been cases in which some hardware is not supported but this is becoming rarer.

    It is worth noting that the eeepc is commercially available outside Australia running Linux out of the box, whereas only the MS version is available in Australia. I can’t say whether Government Policy is the cause or the effect.

    Looking at the Application level,
    Open Office works on MS and Linux.
    MSOffice is not available on Linux.

    With regard to interoperability and accessibility the ideal is to have information available across platforms (from I-Phones to Netbooks and Desktops) via standardised encoding in HTML.

    Here Wikis play a crucial part – however with an unwarranted focus on printing, a major obstacle appears to be the layout (for printing) controls. Ofcourse, we have all ... compromised on the quality of the printed documents in the transition to 'Desktop Publishing'.

    Of interest might be my notes from the session on When will Wikis supersede traditional WP from last Friday’s Recent Changes Camp.

    On a slight tangent, is there a repository/index of Australian Data Sets that have been released into the public domain?


    Marghanita da Cruz says:
    February 11, 2011 at 9:17 am

    Another reason why open standards are important and publishing of HTML is compelling.
    "The Australian Government through the Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs (FaHCSIA) has announced funding of $1 million for the purchase of playback devices for public libraries around the country...":