What Is a Wiki?
August 2, 2005, 11:12pm PDT | Length: 00:03:43
Many people collaborate on projects via e-mail. But e-mail threads can be cumbersome, attached documents can get lost, and who has the latest version anyway? Wikis allow everyone who has access to a page to read and change it.
My name is Joe Kraus. I'm CEO and co-partner of Jotspot andI'm here today to talk about what is a Wiki. Very simply a Wiki is a Web sitewhere anybody who has access to that Web site can not only read it, they canchange it. And what is it good for? It's great for collaboration.
So let's talk about the problem. The problem is how dopeople collaborate today and the answer is e-mail. So let's imagine that fourpeople are having a conversation trying to decide what to put in the nextversion of a product. Well, how do they do that today? Generally, somebodystarts the conversation by sending an e-mail out and then people startresponding, both to one another and to everybody else, and before you know it,you have a huge thread. But eventually a decision is made. So here's what we'regoing to put in the next version of the product and that e-mail gets sent outto each of these people and then gets locked away in people's in-boxes. So whathappens next usually is the CEO or somebody else says, "What did you guysdecide to put in the next version of the product"? He doesn't know, sosomebody has to dig this e-mail out and send it to this person. So one bigproblem today is visibility.
The second problem with this is, do they have the latestversion? It's hard to know. Maybe there was some other discussion that occurredand somebody else has a newer version, and that's the thing that should havebeen sent to the CEO.
Next problem is, somebody new joins the conversation that'spart of the team. They ask the same question, "What are we going to put inthe next version of the product?" and again somebody has to dig thise-mail decision out and e-mail it to this person right here.
Let's contrast this problem in this way of collaboratingwith collaborating as a Wiki. So again, a Wiki is a Web page or a Web site,accessed through a browser where anybody who has access to that page can alsochange it. So now here are our four people who are talking about what to put inthe next version of a product and instead of writing an e-mail, this personwrites some content on this page and now everybody starts editing and changingthis content. So first off, you always have the latest version. I know that ifI go to this page, it will be the latest information. Now if this CEO wants toknow what's going on, they simply go to that page, so visibility is greatlyimproved. I can only spell.
The next thing is, you can attach relevant documents in aWiki to any Wiki page. So in the e-mail example, one problem is maybe there'sdocuments relevant to this discussion about what to put in the next version ofthe product, that maybe they live on this person's hard drive and these peopledon't know about them. Now you can simply attach them to the page, so you canattach documents, so you have more of the relevant info in the same place. Andfinally you can actually add e-mails or attach e-mails to a Wiki page so all ofthe relevant e-mail discussion is in the same place as well.
So again the old way is collaborating over e-mail, multiplethreads back and forth, information locked away in people's inboxes, novisibility, and who's got the latest version. The new way, the Wiki way, allthe information in one place visible to everybody at any time and always thelatest information.