Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Do I have to keep checking the wiki too?

I'm a big fan of wikis - I consider it a kind of service project to Outward Bound for example by contributing from time to time over at their wiki.

Of course we are also using Wikispaces to support our faculty laptop program by writing a wiki to support the best practices of using this tool in our classrooms.

But the other day a colleague of mine expressed dismay at the wiki saying, "I just have a handle on keeping up to date on my email! The wiki is changing so fast I feel overwhelmed checking back there all the time."

This resonated with me since I think wikis and all this other cool stuff will only work if they make our work easier - not more complex! I've thought about this before over at Stewart Mader's excellent blog.

In my opinion we should think about wikis rather like I used to think about the library in my university. It was a giant place full of books that a bunch of specialized people (librarians) thought were interesting and thought we patrons should have access to. The library was constantly updating its collection (something I never paid any attention to) but if I needed something I could go there and look it up.

So in this case our wiki is a lot like this model except that the line between patron and librarian is a little fuzzy. At times patrons can write the books in the library for example. Or patrons can request articles, or just help out by tidying up a bit.

It's not my hope that everyone is completely up to date on all the information in the wiki (a couple of us librarians can take care of that). I hope it is a helpful resource to folks to solve problems, find what they need and get inspired!

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