« Step Away From the Podium |
| History, Personality, and Wikis »
August 3, 2003
There's an interesting thread on Phil Ringnalda's blog today
regarding the naming process for the !(echo/atom/pie) syndication format project.
Sam Ruby, who maintains the wiki for the project, asks in the comments why Phil feels unable or unwilling to re-open "Pie" as a naming option. He wonders whether it's the tone of the wiki name vote page that's keeping Phil from doing so.
Phil responds thusly:
Mostly, yes: it's the "here are the only seven possible names, there was ample time to suggest others, and we've done a ton of work to be sure that these are the only possible names already, now pick one" tone of the vote page.
But it's also the lack of archives: if (Ghu forbid) it had been done on a mailing list rather than a wiki, I would know that there had to have been at least one discussion where Pie got thrown out, and could look back to see the complete history, and if it had been casually tossed out before the difficulties of finding a workable name were really clear, I could say "why not reconsider Pie, now that we know we can't just pick anything we want?" As it is, I have to assume there's some good reason (surely they didn't just throw your name out for no reason at all, did they?), but even if there is a WhyYouCantHavePie page, I can't assume that it actually tells the whole story, just the story that the last few people to edit it wanted told.
I like compromise, where someone clearly gives up something they want in order to get forward progress, with the feeling that maybe next time their ox won't be the one to get gored. I don't think I like consensus, where everyone silently joins the faceless crowd just because it is a crowd.
Phil's not the only one with concerns about wikis for these types of collaborative processes. It's interesting to read the comments on a recent post by Sam
regarding the wiki process. Several extremely capable people--including Shelley Powers
and Dare Obasanjo
have expressed discomfort with the chaotic nature of the project wiki.
I see a backlash building on wikis, mostly in a good way. The choice of a tool for online group-forming or process facilitation is an important one, and the pros and cons of specific tools need to be carefully considered by anyone wanting to implement them.
I'm not yet at the point where I see wikis as adding sufficient value to any process I'm involved with to justify the installation, configuration, and learning curve for users necessary to add another tool to my social software arsenal. Like Phil, I continue to be troubled by the inherent ahistoricism built into the wiki environment; like Shelley I find the lack of social cues to tell me if I'm treading on someone's toes by changing content to be inhibiting; like Dare, I find that large-scale active wikis are often too chaotic and disorganized, making it difficult for me to find what I'm looking for. But I'm still willing to be convinced.
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category:
- RELATED ENTRIES
- Spolsky on Blog Comments: Scale matters
- "The internet's output is data, but its product is freedom"
- Andrew Keen: Rescuing 'Luddite' from the Luddites
- knowledge access as a public good
- viewing American class divisions through Facebook and MySpace
- Gorman, redux: The Siren Song of the Internet
- Mis-understanding Fred Wilson's 'Age and Entrepreneurship' argument
- The Future Belongs to Those Who Take The Present For Granted: A return to Fred Wilson's "age question"