electronic brain surgery since 2001

WikiSym 2007 Day 2

Day 2 of WikiSym 2007 started with a keynote by Jonathan Grudin called “Living without Parental Control”. The title was a little misleading but Jonathan brought up a few good points.

He explained how technology changes the way of team building and interacting in groups. Eg. he pointed out how virtual teams form in massive online games without having ever met in reality. Another really important thing he talked about was the way how rules and their enforcement are influenced by technology. He pointed out how rules are generally not always there to taken literally. Sometimes things can even go really wrong when they are followed to the point.

After the keynote I attended the papers session on Wiki Technology. Christoph Sauer's talk about WikiCreole was followed by an really interesting presentation on using Natural Language Processing (NLP) in Wikis. Rene Witte explained how NLP could be used to answer open ended natural questions by giving answers as automatically created wiki pages. NLP can also be used to create automated book style page indexes or automatically create pages for Wikitionary using analysis of newspaper articles. They build some prototype implementation using GATE and Mediawiki. Surprisingly he explained that the hardest part was to access the pure wiki data. That is supposed to get better with newer MediaWiki versions which will include some API.

That presentation was followed by a talk about DistriWiki, which aims to create a Wiki based on Peer-to-Peer technology. The hardest part in a Wiki without the central server obviously is conflicting edits and how to detect them. One of the real benefits a Peer-to-Peer wiki could have was not mentioned by the presenter though: it could be an effective way to circumvent censorship.

After some Chinese food in the lunch break I joined a few open space sessions one of them being about the Universal Wiki Edit button. Goal of that project is to find a logo to put on Wiki edit buttons to make users easily recognize a Wiki. I kind of lost track of the discussion a few months after RoCoCo Camp earlier this year. In the meantime an IMHO good enough 0.1 logo was found and the discussion seems to be a little bit stuck. We agreed that to gain new momentum would be some wikis actually starting to use the button. I will have a look at adding it to my wiki soon.

The day was closed with a poster presentation and demo sesion in the evening. This was done together with the OOPSLA guys so most of the posters were not wiki related. I had a really nice Talk with Marc Laporte from TikiWiki about all kind of stuff and I really enjoyed it. Nelson Ko also showcased a nice visualization applet for wiki contributions. His applet is able to show graphs on how pages relate to each other and how contributers interacted with certain pages. He is planning to release his code as an Open Source project.

This post was originally published at cosmocode.de
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