electronic brain surgery since 2001

WikiSym 2007 Day 1

The first day of the WikiSym 2007 is over. Time to summarize some of todays impressions. I'll try to do that in a more brief way than in the last year. I just want to give some key points that stuck to my mind.

The venue of the conference is really huge with some really nice catering for breakfast and coffee breaks. This is a side effect of being colocated with the bigger OOPSLA conference. Another not so good side effect were some time decisions that had to be made. One is the starting time of 8 o'clock.

Another bad decision was that workshops were scheduled for the first conference day instead of having them at the end. This means that the Creole workshop I attended this morning was held before the paper presentation tomorrow.

Chuck Smith and Christoph Sauer compensated for this fact by giving a short introduction on what has been done since last year. Chuck explained how the discussion process led to the 1.0 spec. He also talked about the various ways how Creole can be added to existing engines (Creole-only, mixed mode and Creole-Editing). I asked if there where any engines implementing Creole-editing style, yet. He denied but mentioned MediaWiki considering using this mode.

Dirk Riele mentioned his work at SAP-Research on a XML-based Wiki-Interchangeformat for which they are using a Grammar-generated Creole-Parser. He told us that they created a strict and non-strict version of the Creole grammar, the latter being about 40% bigger. Which led to a discussion on how a “forgiving” syntax makes things easier for humans but harder for machines/programmers.

A reoccuring topic during the whole day was the use of WYSIWYG editors in Wikis. Christoph Sauer mentioned a new version of his WikiWizard which was created by one of his colleagues and is now based on JavaScript instead of Java. It shall be released soon under an OpenSource license. I will keep an eye on it.

I later joined an OpenSpace sessions about Rich Media Editing held by Evan Prodromou. We mainly concentrated on SVG and Video editing. We had a look at various online editing tools and what might work for a Wiki. One thing Evan said really stuck to my mind: “If we don't take action [in creating collaborative open source / open content editing tools] our [wiki] culture may get lost”.

An example of what Wiki culture and the Internet age can do was given by a guy during the coffee break. He explained on how the world wide skill level of jugglers increased because of the internet and its way to create communities across huge spaces. He told us about how he knew nobody who could juggle and how he had a hard time to find juggling balls. He gave an example of a girl posting her juggling attempts at YouTube asking for advice. And that she got it, from one of the world's top jugglers.

The last OpenSpace session I visited was about Quality in Wikis. We agreed that there are different aspects of quality. Like accuracy and writing style. We also found quality to be a pretty relative term depending on the target group and cultural influences. An interesting thing Phoebe Ayers mentioned was how Wikipedia's “Featured Article” usually goes downhill in quality after being exposed on the front page. Evan Prodromou mentioned that automated tools could help users with improving their writings. Eg. by running readability tests or suggesting which words to link.

It was quite an interesting day so far. I will go to a Wiki Film Festival organized by Chuck Smith later tonight.

This post was originally published on cosmocode.de
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