By Meredith Farkas | April 27, 2005
It has been interesting to observe how people have approached the wiki I created. I’ve been thrilled to see that people are contributing to it and have added some great tips! However, I’ve gotten several emails and comments suggesting topics, instructions, and other things that could go into the wiki. That’s nice that people are full of ideas, but why bother asking me? It’s a wiki! They can add whatever they want, and if someone hates it, they can change it back. There is no asking permission. Even Steven Cohen made a suggestion that he could have just implemented himself:
Meredith has put together a wiki for ALA Annual. Its content includes not what is happening within the conference itself (although that would be very helpful), but information about visiting Chicago (restaurants, hotels, attractions, etc).
However, one of his readers set him straight (see the comment to his post):
Remember that it’s a wiki, so if some enterprising people want to add a section about what’s actually happening at the conference, they can do so just by creating a new topic from the front page. Pretty cool
I think it’s difficult for people to get used to the idea of a website that anyone is allowed to add to or edit. The notion of private property is deeply embedded in our society. We’re accustomed to websites where there is somone of authority who decides what can and can’t go into it, and wikis really shouldn’t have that. Heck, it even goes on in the Wikipedia. I was pretty annoyed when I heard that some of the “wikirati” at the Wikipedia arguing over whether or not Jessamyn is significant enough to remain in the wikipedia. (Significant to whom? How is that even a valid question? Imposing this sort of authority on the wikipedia seems rather arbitrary to me and goes against what a wiki should be. But I digress…) But if we had a normal website where someone had to review, compile, and put all of the content into HTML, it probably wouldn’t get done until after the conference. The beauty of the wiki is that anyone can add whatever they want to the wiki, and therefore, it can develop quickly and organically. I think the idea of such “anarchy” may make some people uncomfortable, but hopefully this ALA wiki will help us all get used to walking on the wild side!
If you’re interested in learning more about how pages develop in the Wikipedia, check out Jon Udell’s fantastic screencast.
And to think that my husband was worried about people vandalising the wiki. I told him librarians were too polite for such tom-foolery.
For those who will be blogging at the conference, I’ve added a page to the wiki where people can get a list of who is blogging at the conference. So anyone — official and unofficial, core and pariah bloggers alike — who is going to be at ALA and will be blogging about it, please add your blog to the list. I know there’s been all sort of hubbub about highlighting certain “core” bloggers over others, so I thought the wiki could provide a nice, neutral place where all of the conference bloggers can be highlighted equally. Thanks to TangognaT for the great idea!