Hi OG developers
a wee report from WikiSym06, where I was presenting the paper me and Tom emailed you about
a while back. The survey we sent out on the dev-list became: "Wikis of Locality:
Insights from the Open Guides", authored by me, Tom, and helped by one of the
sympathetic senior professors in our department Marc Eisenstadt.
The paper is online at http://www.wikisym.org/ws2006/proceedings/p119.pdf
The conference info is at:http://www.wikisym.org/ws2006/
wiki at : http://ws2006.wikisym.org/
proceedings at: http://www.wikisym.org/ws2006/proceedings/
WikiSym06 was 60 -ish folk in a hotel in Odense, Denmark. It felt like there were two
groups - the hands on practical folk and the academic folk and the conference sat between
the two. There were two rooms, one which had formal paper sessions, and the second was an
'open space' where on the morning of the first day we were all invited to put up
topics for discussion and from then on in people could just turn up to these sessions and
work as felt best, voting with their feet. Check the URLs above to check what happened in
the sessions, what they were on.
Wikipedia was the 800lb gorilla in the conference, people trying to work out if this was
just a single edge case of a unique superlarge wiki or if we'll see a dozen wikipedia
sized wikis in the years to come, whether all the discussion of standards and ideas are
irrelevant and we'll just all have to adopt whatever wikipedia chooses to use.
Conversations always seemed to mention wikipedia in some manner or another..
Quite a few of the folk had been to WikiMania and the Recent Changes Camp in the US, there
was a lot of discussion about them.
Folk were pretty open and up for chatting all the time, I ended up sitting with a couple
of guys called Ward and Brion at breakfast the first morning, well I guess Mr. Cunningham
knows his way round wikis and Brion Vibber knows his way round Wikipedia (CTO of Wikimedia
apparently). Both very pleasant and up for chatting with an eejit like me!
The presentation I did on the Open Guides (Milton Keynes in particular) seemed to go down
pretty well, quite a lot of questions afterwards. There had been various threads
throughout the sessions on things like corporate wikis, education, politics, language
issues, but I think our paper on the OpenGuides was the only one focussing on wikis
supporting physical localities. Main questions were something like this....
- have we thought of a mobile phone version? (Harri Lakkala of Nokia): me - probably we
have other priorities first but if you're up for helping... :-) and I don't think
anybody would in principle be against doing a mobile friendly version
- are we automating entry of long and lat data ? (Evan Prodromou of Wikitravel) : me - no
though we have a script for working out maps from postcode, but it would be nice, issues
in UK of getting this data from the Ordnance Survey. Evan was up for chatting - I think
some of you guys know him. A couple of people asked if WikiTravel and OpenGuides crossed
over, I suggested perhaps WikiTravel was for tourists and OpenGuides were more for local
residents? different granularity of content...
- do we work with the local town hall and council (Michel Buffa, ESSI scientist
) me: no, so far we've decided it would be better to be
independent so we can write more freely and be negative as well as positive about places
- Sunir Shah (co-founder of Meatball Wiki http://www.usemod.com/cgi-bin/mb.pl?SunirShah
suggested methods of reducing spam on the site (try akismet.com
perl plug in).
- Sheizaf Rafaeli (community network guy and business prof. http://sheizaf.rafaeli.net/
have we investigated the motivation of why users contribute? Liked our taxonomy of
Placeholders/Completers/Housekeepers. Really interested in the Housekeeper category, this
is what he wants to find out more about.
(German guy, oops forgot to note his details): he has a wiki in the small Bavarian town
where he lives. He thought about setting one up in Berlin but was told that every street
has one, do we think this will be a problem, are we already obsolescent? At this point
lots of people joined in to my defence including Evan from Wikitravel and a massive debate
ensued that got stopped by the chair so the next guy (Kevin Makice) could do his
I sat in on most of the presentations, and turned up to the open space sessions on
"simplicity" (which was pretty philosophical) and a proposed Creole Markup for
wikis - the idea is to try to bash out a simplified common markup so people can move
between wikis easily and also make it easier for new users to participate
). There was also a discussion of a unified language, and
discussions on WYSIWYG editors.
Feel free to email me if there are any aspects you'd like me to chat further about, or
if you need the contact details for any of the folk that were there (I think all the paper
presenters' details will be on the papers themselves).
cheers! and thanks again for everybody who helped with the survey.
Knowledge Media Institute
The Open University
Milton Keynes, UK