Here are some links for those of you who are attending (or have attended, depending on when you look at this) my SirsiDynix talk today. If you have any additional questions, please feel free to post them in the comments section of this post and I’ll answer them as soon as I can. Better for me to answer them here than via e-mail so that other people who may have similar questions can benefit.
Things I demonstrated:
Antioch University New England Library Staff Training and Support Wiki
Things I discussed:
USC Aiken Gregg-Graniteville Library
Library Success: A Best Practices Wiki
Boeninger, Chad. “A Wiki as a Research Guide.” Library Voice. July 13, 2005.
Farkas, Meredith. “So You Want to Build A Wiki?” WebJunction. September 1, 2005.
Farkas, Meredith. “Using Wikis to Create Online Communities.” WebJunction. September 1, 2005.
Lamb, Brian. “Wide Open Spaces: Wikis, Ready or Not.” Educause Review. Sept/Oct 2004.
Mattison, David. “Quickiwiki, Swiki, Twiki, Zwiki and the Plone Wars Wiki as a PIM and Collaborative Content Tool.” Searcher. April, 2003.
Terdiman, Daniel. “How wikis are changing our view of the world.” CNET. November 15, 2005.
Tonkin, Emma. “Making the Case for a Wiki.” Ariadne. January, 2005.
I wanted to make it — I really did! I just couldn’t squeeze it into my day!
Thanks for the links!
Meredith’s webcast was Wikitastic. A couple of notes here: http://davidrothman.net/2006/07/13/meredith-farkas-is-wikitastic/
No worries, Ryan. You can watch the archive any time. I’ll put a post on my blog when it’s up.
Thanks for coming David! I will address what you wrote about wikis in medical libraries in a later post. 🙂
The seminar was great – I learned loads. I’ve just started using wikis (one as a private space for me to keep track of my research and one to share professional material with other librarians) and I found you answered a lot od the questions I’d come up against. The links will be very useful as well. I have a couple of questions I’d like to ask:-
1. I’m a school librarian and I would love to use a wiki to get my students more engaged. Do you know of any examples of this working well for students aged 11-18. Also, given that we have to be careful about the content minors are exposed to, how do the issues surrounding vandalism change in this context? The school I work for are very suspicious of any web content which is not moderated by a member of staff before kids can see it online – does this rule out the wiki format?
2. I’m about to start a PhD which is based in a large literature archive. I will be working on the archive side as well as doing research into literature. I’d like to supplement the professional cataloguing of material in the archive with some kind of researcher-based ‘cataloguing’. For example, a collection of letters might be catalogued as ‘letters from X to Y, 1940-1945’. If a researcher looked through these they might be making notes which gave more details, e.g. ‘Letter 12 May 1940, discusses problems of censorship in children’s books’. I want to encourage people to share these kind of notes in an online, searchable forum. I originally thought about blogging this, but maybe a wiki would be a better bet.
I’m aware that these are massive questions – I don’t expect you to do all the work for me! I thought, though, that you might be able to point me in the right direction. If anyone reading these comments is involved in a project similar to the things I have mentioned, I’d love to hear from them. My contact details are on my Wiki, or people can post directly on there.
Thanks again for a really useful session!
Awesome talk! I’m also a distance learning librarian, and I’m inspired to look into wikis as a workable solution for some internal technology issues (mainly storing files where student workers and library staff can both access them) as well as for collaborative reference work. (now I just have to get the IT dept. as enthusiastic as I am… *sigh*). I haven’t had a chance to consolidate my notes, but I’ll try to post my thoughts over the weekend (see link below). Thanks again for an illuminating discussion on a timely issue! 🙂
Great presentation, thanks Meredith. Towards the end you mentioned that some of the hosted wikifarms offered RSS feeds for any wiki page, instead of just the recent changes feed that MediaWiki offers. Can you point me to any of those RSSified wiki hosts?
Paul, thanks for coming! I’m sure it was rather redundant for you since you went to my other talk in January, but I’m glad you found it at least not boring. 🙂
There aren’t many wikis that offer the functionality you’re looking for, though there may be some that I don’t know of. I know Twiki either does offer feeds for each page or that’s a hack that people can do with Twiki http://twiki.org/ because I’ve seen several sites here and there using Twiki that have that functionality. Confluence http://www.atlassian.com/software/confluence/ also offers that functionality, but it costs $$$. For some reason I thought Xwiki did too, but looking at it now, maybe it doesn’t.
I’m a little pressed for time right now, but I will get other questions as soon as I am able.
My computer froze at the end of the session, so I didn’t have a chance to fill out the survey form. Just want to convey that I thought your Institute was informative and engaging. Great work!
Paul, did you see the news http://www.micropersuasion.com/2006/07/wikipedia_entir.html that Wikipedia users can now subscribe to feeds for changes made to individual articles? Since they use MediaWiki software, it means that it is also possible with MediaWiki. Woo hoo!
Hi Lucy, sorry it took me so long to answer your questions. I’m actually on vacation right now.
There are actually a lot of educators working with wikis in the K-12 environment. Since I work in higher education, it’s not an area I’m super involved in. I wonder how you would want to use a wiki with young people. Would it be about getting them to co-create the space or just collaboratively developing a space with other teachers for young people? Wikis really need a purpose, so you need to think about what purpose a wiki would serve. Just throwing one to a group of young people and telling them they can use it will not inspire them — you need to have a purpose and a topic that engages them (there is nothing magical about a wiki in and of itself — it’s how you use it). I think that’s priority #1. When using wikis in a K-12 setting, it’s definitely a good idea to protect the wiki so that only people in the educational environment can access it. And, like any good wiki, you need someone to monitor it so that people don’t post really inappropriate content or content that is outside of what the wiki was created for. I monitor my wiki for that as well — someone just posted an advertisement the other day and I deleted it because the Library Success Wiki should not be a space for people to advertise crap. But with a wiki, yes, you need to trust the population that is authorized to add information. You can’t really hold additions for moderation like with a blog. You either let people add stuff or you don’t. I think it can serve many useful purposes in educational environments, but I don’t really know how you specifically want to use it.
As to your second question, there are a lot of ways to get user-created comments. You can use a wiki, you can create a way that users can “tag” the items you’re cataloging (like with Flickr or del.icio.us), you could use a blog to get comments, or you could create a way for users to add comments to a database. I think a wiki might work for that, but it would really depend on the wiki and how you organize the information. I would definitely talk to people who are familiar with large-scale database projects like this, because they would have a lot more to add to the conversation. I think with anything as unstructured as a wiki, you have the likelihood of things becomming disorganized and hard to find and you can’t really create structured fields like I think you would need for a project like that.
Good luck with your projects!
Hello, I just tried the RSS for individual wiki pages (i use Mediawiki, on Wikia). I just have to add ” &action=history&feed=rss ” to the url of any page, and it creates the feed.
Unfortunatly, I tried also on Libsuccess, and it’s not working, I don’t know why.
Hi David. I probably have to upgrade my version of MediaWiki to get the RSS feeds working or something like that.
I checked in at the wrong moment, I am sure–but following the top link under “Things I Demonstrated” took me to an ALA 2006 wiki absolutely chock full o’ links that I wouldn’t dare follow (www.lolitatrap etc.)
This frightens me, even though I’m an avid fan of this whole wiki thing. If a wiki that’s presented as exemplary is so readily trashed, and/or requires a high (perhaps impractical?) level of monitoring & maintenance, one has to wonder if wikis are yet another great idea that’s destined to be problematic in the grim Real World (i.e. Real Web) that we’re doomed to share with the idiot spammers.
A few years ago I installed a free QuickTopic discussion board on my site. That was a boon, at first–a wonderful concept & service, and librarians made good use of it. But recently it degenerated into nothing but an ugly nonstop spam factory. I got notes from people who were livid because they didn’t know how to unsubscribe; of course the only thing to do was kill the board.
I don’t mean to sound like a nag, not at all. It’s just that in order to help make wikis really work the way we all hope that they will, I’m afraid there needs to be plenty of attention focused on this issue. Thanks as always!
Bruce, you are absolutely right about the fact that spam can be a problem. However, it becomes very easily manageable when you have a committed community of users — users who when they see spam like that will get rid of it themselves rather than expecting some moderator to do it, which is not reasonable in wiki world; it’s everyone’s responsibility. Unfortunately, while the ALA promised to maintain the wiki, the burden ended up being totally on me and I supposed anyone else with a sense of “community spirit” probably also assumed it was being maintained by ALA and didn’t bother to take an active role. With the ALA Chicago Wiki, other people often reverted spam before I even got to it. There was a really committed community of people involved in that wiki and that ensures the success of a wiki (that or having a wiki gardener who is obsessed with keeping the wiki “clean”). The only spam that ends up on the wiki these days is spam that is not added by spambots. Spambots are the sort that can spam 100 pages in the course of a few minutes, but those are blocked by the plugin I use. This piece of spam was only on one page and would have been easy to get rid of.
Unfortunately, when that spam came on the wiki, I was flying home (hellish series of flights) from my vacation, but usually, I catch that stuff really quickly because I subscribe to the RSS feed of all changes made to the wiki.
There are a lot of other ways to prevent spam. You can password protect your wiki or put it behind your corporate firewall if its being used by a specific group. You can require people to register to edit the wiki (as I do with the Library Success Wiki). But really, the best ways to prevent it are good spam prevention software (plugins, blacklists, etc.) and a committed community. Unfortunately, that wiki never developed a committed community, which I largely attribute to the ALA’s lack of involvement in it. All I had offered to do was host the wiki for them (since they had wanted a wiki and did not know how to set one up), but I ended up being the person who had to maintain the wiki, kill spam, answer questions from ALA members who didn’t understand wikis, etc.
Still chasing down the RSS feeds in Mediawiki – you’ll need to upgrade to version 1.7.1 (or later) to get this feature. Also, the syntax is actually ?action=history&feed=rss – note the initial question mark, not an ampersand as noted by David above… Sure would love to see the updgrade Meredith. Hey, you’re done with the book now – surely you have nothing but time on your hands! 😉
& or ? : I guess it’s a question of version (as the english Wikipedia still uses &).
Anyway, the toolbox in the history pages of Wikipedia and Wikia now shows the rss and atom links, hopefuly this might be a new generic feature in Mediawiki.
But these wikifeeds remain hard to read : the agregators don’t keep the colors, which are so useful to identify the changes in a wiki.
[…] was looking through Meredith’s links for her SirsiDynix talk, and noticed that she was linking to my Wiki As A Research Guide post from exactly one year ago […]