electronic brain surgery since 2001

WikiSym 2008 Day 2

This day started with a keynote held by George P. Landon. He explained how some early hypertext systems worked and evolved and how it was hard to transfer what was developed for hypertext systems to the much more popular but less featureful world wide web later.

He did this in the context of a project called the “Victorian Web” he is working on for some decades now. Unfortunately his transition of technology seems to have stopped somewhen in 2000. He argued about having a “wiki like” collaboration system, but what he really had was a bunch of static web pages where people can submit additional articles via email to him. People I spoke to where generally disappointed in that keynote as well.

The keynote was followed by a Open Space session on the state of Wiki Creole. We did talk about what wikis currently support Creole syntax (about a handful) and how they implemented it (mixed mode). XWiki will support switching syntaxes on the fly in the next version and Creole will be one of the supported modes. MediaWiki on the other hand now officially stated that they will not support Creole. A few people however mentioned Creole popping up in non-Wiki projects like Drupal and Moodle. So there seems to be some albeit slow success in adoption.

Later I attended a presentation by Dan Ingalls about Lively Kernel. Lively is basically a system based on JavaScipt and SVG, implementing a full graphical environment combined with scripting facilities. Ingalls also showed some very basic revisioning using a SVN backend accessed via WebDav. Even if Lively is more of a proof of concept currently it might have been a glimpse into the future of wikis allowing to do collaboration on graphical object instead of just text.

An interesting Open Space session on distributed wikis took place in the afternoon. We talked about what different use cases could be (scalability, high availability, offline usage, serverless usage, …) and what difficulties could arise. The main point we were repeatedly returning to where how to merge or resolve conflicts and how to maintain the order of edits when committing changes from different peers. While there were no immediate solutions a few very interesting points where raised in that discussion.

Again I also talked to many interesting people during the day. One of them being Peter B. Meyer who works for the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. He told me about how they used DokuWiki for some time until a political decision forced them to use Sharepoint wiki. Sharepoint Wiki was mentioned in a few other conversations but rarely in a positive context ;-)

The day finished with a “Special Event” arranged by the WikiSym organizers consisting of a city tour by bus, a visit in the Sandemann Port wine cellars, a boat tour and a restaurant visit. The restaurant was very nice - they had a large buffet with all kinds of different traditional Portuguese food. I'm not sure about the origin of some of the things I ate today but most of it was really delicious. Kudos to the WikiSym commit y for making this evening happen.

This post was originally published on cosmocode.de
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