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.
Being 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.
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 en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Shakespeare; 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.
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:
Kate Lundy: Welcome news for Open Source...:
* Principle 1: Australian Government ICT procurement processes must actively and fairly consider all types of available software.
* Principle 2: Suppliers must consider all types of available software when dealing with Australian Government agencies.
* Principle 3: Australian Government agencies will actively participate in open source software communities and contribute back where appropriate...
Marghanita da Cruz
Posted February 4, 2011 at 7:36 am | Permalink | Reply
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This appears to be a step forward. However, there is some irony in this statement in the Minister’s Media Release.
"The Australian Government Policy on Open Source Software is available on the Department of Finance and Deregulation website in PDF and RTF formats."
Policy available in HTML at www.finance.gov.au/publications/guide-to-open-source-software
Marghanita da Cruz says:
February 2, 2011 at 12:38 pm
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...":