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Wikis: An Overview
A wiki refers to “Web site that enables users to add new content or amend existing content” (Microsoft Corporation, 2006, p.2). The moment one posts on a wiki, all the users are then in a position to make their contributions by either adding or correcting the original document (Parker & Chao, 2007).
The users do not have to get permission from the author of the work or the administrator since each and every person is given a power to make contributions. The “Windows Share Point Services 3.0 provides history and version management, so that no original thinking is lost” (Microsoft Corporation, 2006, p.3). The wiki community undertakes the management of change and makes sure that there is accuracy as well as relevance.
The difference between the wikis and blogs lies in “shared-document collaboration element” (Microsoft Corporation, 2006,p.3). The original author gives up ownership of the content he or she provides the moment the work is published. Authors have no need for writing HTML for the reason that the content “appears in a basic editor interface that enables anyone with basic keyboard skills to add, amend, reorganize, or delete information” (Microsoft Corporation, 2006, p.3).
The wiki software, which is more advanced, makes it possible to have advanced editing and this may include “HTML tags, support for rich text fonts and graphics” (Microsoft Corporation, 2006). This implies that there is a high speed collaborative development. Originally, the wikis were utilized by the developers as well as researchers in order to develop ideas rapidly (Educause, 2004). However, today, the use of wikis has “extended to project managers and others in more traditional business disciplines” (Microsoft Corporation, 2006, p. 3).
The initial creation of Wikis was undertaken in the year 1995 by Ward Cunningham. This researcher conceived the Wikis as a swift way of creating and sharing ideas when one is working. The initial Wiki was referred to as the “Portland Pattern Repository” and the main purpose of this Wiki was to “facilitate the discovery and discussion of software patterns” (Tonya, 2008, p.1).
The Wiki that was created by Ward and it still working and widely used by the Internet users all over the world. The product of the development that was undertaken by Ward was the “creation of web-based collaboration tool with applications for use in many areas” (Tonya, 2008, p.1).
From the time it was created, more than one decade ago, a large number of Wiki implementations have “spawned on various server platforms, including a number of open software projects” (Tonya, 2008, p.1). At the present, there exist a number of wiki engines which are used in the wiki installation and hosting. There also exist a large number of “wiki farms” where hosting of wiki space on a server can be carried out (Educause, 2004). Some of these are available at a fee while others are free of charge.
Wikis in a Business Environment and Ethical Issues
The business organizations can eagerly take advantage of the wikis “collaborative functionality”, but they may suspiciously look at the possibly to alter the content without the management of the source and version. It is pointed out that the “flexibility of a wiki is the greatest strength, because it enables peers to work together to change or update a work without the need to increase the e-email traffic or take up excessive time in meetings and conference calls” (Microsoft Corporation, 2006, p.6).
The wikis can cancel out the need to hold meetings and to make conference calls. In the course of time, the wikis have been utilized in the design of the conference and event agendas in advance. This is applicable to anyone’s business. There is no need for one to be physically present at the venue to hold meetings; a wiki makes it possible for business thinkers to describe the agenda online.
A reflection of what is supposed to be discussed and what is not supposed to is given by the wiki. However, there is the need to observe ethical issues and have trust between the group members that use wikis. In addition, there is also the need to have fundamental guidelines for the wiki conduct, “covering such thorny issues as deleting or modifying the contributions of others” (Microsoft Corporation, 2006, p.6).
It is pointed out that the use of the wikis for the internal collaboration is attaining credibility among the business organizations rapidly (Microsoft Corporation, 2006). In line with other fast-growing “development and modelling methodologies, wikis offer a unique environment for synthesis of different ideas” (Microsoft Corporation, 2006, p.6). The capacity to work on one document as a team makes it possible for the teams to have rapid assimilation of all inputs of the members of the team.
This immediate collaborative development makes it possible for the groups to be in a position to identify and find agreements without the delay on the important points of a project, or even a strategy or a plan. In the same way one can use blogs, one can set up wiki sites at “any number of levels, for small groups or large groups, so they can resolve a policy framework or complete a project plan, in a structured or an informal manner” (Microsoft Corporation, 2006, p.6).
A large number of business organizations consider wikis as being the most appropriate for an in-house development, since ”it is possible to manage and police a site through company policies and standards” (Microsoft Corporation, 2006, p.6). It is of a great significance to go beyond this constraint and learn from the success that has been achieved by the wikis. A well-known wiki site is Wikipedia. This is a from of the Wikimedia Foundation.
This category of the site provides users with the a freedom to make contribution to the development of the site sharing their knowledge and important information, thus, “Web users can read and modify pages, and add insights in to an encyclopaedic range of topics” (Microsoft Corporation, 2006, p.6).
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This may seem to be riskily open, but yet it works. For a business organisation, there has to be a higher consideration for “inaccuracies or intentionally misleading postings, especially from contributors outside the organization” (Microsoft Corporation, 2006, p.6).
Stories Related To Wikis
A large number of businesses are utilising wikis. Use of the e-mails can be quite time consuming and burdensome. It is mostly much better to create a wiki, coming up with a document which any person can edit; such companies as the Oxford University Press, Yahoo, the Walt Disney and sections of the U.S. military among others have used private workspace wikis, in which the employees can be able to engage in discussing of each other’s work and also immediately edit the documents (Winston & Edelbach, 2011).
It is reported that Soar Technology Inc., which is an artificial intelligence company and works for the Office of the Naval Research, gave out a report that wikis cut down the time that is needed to complete projects by 50 percent (Winston & Edelbach, 2011, p.203). Some people give projections that in the coming five years wikis will be used by a very large number of businesses in the United States (Winston & Edelbach, 2011).
The wiki form quality is “immediately variable” (Winston & Edelbach, 2011, p.203). It is pointed out that it will be exceptionally interesting to see how the form evolves in the course of time (Winston & Edelbach, 2011, 2011). “We could easily imagine amplification of errors, hidden profiles, cascade effects, and group polarization on wikis and their cousins” (Winston & Edelbach, 2011, p.203).
But it is also pointed out that the big hunch is that the diversity of views, together with a widespread desire to cooperate, will ensure much successes, but not only within working groups (Winston & Edelbach, 2011). Of course, a large number of experiments do not succeed but the “explosive growth of Wikipedia and wikis in general, suggests that more and even better developments are on the way” (Winston & Edelbach, 2011, p.203).
Wikis are currently being used by business organizations and individuals to get several benefits through carrying out their activities more conveniently and effectively. For instance, flexibility of wikis makes them very effective tools and this enables peers to carry out activities together to change or update a work without the need to increase e-mail traffic or consuming more time holding meetings making calls. It is projected that the use of wikis by business organizations is going to increase even more in the near future.
Educause, (2004). Wide open spaces: Wikis ready or not. Educause.edu. Web.
Microsoft Corporation. (2006). Using blogs and Wikis in business. Microsoft. Web.
Parker, K. R & Chao, J. T. (2007). Wiki as a teaching tool. Interdisciplinary Journal of Knowledge and Learning Objects, 3(1), 57 – 72.
Tonya, J. (2008). Wiki history. Wiki.wetpaint.com. Web.
Winston, M. & Edelbach, R. (2011). Ethics, society and technology. New York: Cengage Learning.