(2014-08-01) Caulfield Federated Wiki

Mike Caulfield has been doing some work with Federated Wiki.

Apr'2014: his gloss on the general idea... I'm not talking here about Ward Cunningham's SmallestFederated Wiki, which was largely the inspiration for this, but about our local attempts to make DokuWiki work in a way that approximates federation. But I think the use cases apply to Ward's work as well. Note this piece isn't about EduTech, but rather producing support documentation for your faculty, though he extends the details into teaching-process thoughts... On a wiki every page has an edit button; on a federated wiki, every page has a fork button. He also notes the UI issue: But that step of deciding what comes onto your wiki from the federation — what does that look like? It could get really noisy. It could get very difficult to know which updates of a dozen you want. It could be so time consuming to scan the updates and understand what they are that it’s easier to roll your own. Alternatively, the process could be so silent that everything flows into your drafts folder but never gets used. Things like attributing cleanly without gunking up the articles with too many lines of credits are also issues. Tracking what you have approved and not approved may get confusing as well (Did I review this already?) unless the system handles it elegantly.

Jun04: He's digging into SmallestFederated Wiki, and gives a good pitch of wiki and specifically SFW as getting closer to Ted Nelson's bigger HyperText vision. Federation is really a smaller idea in a larger vision. The core problem addressed in Smallest Federated Wiki is how to make a wiki that resists calcification. Parallel columns, draggable elements, and revision features make reorganization cheap and attractive. The JSON basis prevents fossilization of data elements, and allows an easy route to bring dynamic third party material into the site.

Jun10: he sees federation as the best way to support the Emergence of x-MOOC content. People don’t vote on content around which to create groups — rather they use the content, and for each person that use connects them to the creators of that content in specific ways. (Alternative to Student Wiki Web thinking?)

Jun11: pitch for content-survival (PermaLink) via Federation.

Jun12: he walks through the process of forking a page and making changes and scanning changes that other people have made at various points in time. The combination allows for some of the personal vibrancy (and diversity) of blogging while engaged in very un-bloglike, recursive, news-peg-less activities.

  • drag the icon just left of the Location/URL into the blank far-right section of the target site-page. This works better in FireFox than Google Chrome!

Jun17: he revisits the culture-shock associated with people learn to write the WikiWay. By “chunking” large, complex observations and histories into terms and pages you make it possible for people to see patterns that would otherwise be invisible... We’ve never asked the class to develop a new language (Shared Language) in the study of a subject, or to extend an old one. Instead, we gravitate to more traditional modes of academic production. I Commented about the encouragement that comes from using Smashed Together Words for Automatic Linking.

Jun18: he shows how to get a page from another SFW site brought over into yours: he drags the icon next to the URL in the browse Location area over to the empty space at the far right of the window for your own SFW space....

Jun18: he shows how to see the specific version of a page that has cousins in multiple spaces.

Jun19: he notes how the combination of Page Name As [[URL]] and federation works invisibly.

Jun20: he notes how a link to a page will give you different results depending on the Context as defined by the WikiSpace you're currently "in". (This is only confusing because of SFW's style of having you always working in 1 window.)

Jun20: he shows how even your RecentChanges view depends on the breadth of your current Wiki Neighborhood.

Jun20: he notes how SFW's JSON and Structured Wiki focus brings it toward Jon Udell's concept of Universal Canvas. SFW isn’t really even a wiki to some extent. It’s more like a networked document.

Jun24: he demonstrates how content spreads via InterWiki across mostly-unrelated WikiSpace-s.

Jun30: he introduces the concept of Federation through the example of "Family Movie Night". (NetFlix UX challenge.) Showing how messy getting multiple people to share info gets without federation.

Jul03: he explains how a UI that seems more helpful in the first 60min of use is often less efficient for use over time (Ease Of Learning vs Ease Of Use).

Jul11: he demonstrates how plug-ins work with JSON to have a Structured Wiki encourage Open Innovation by lowering the bar to Iterative-ly defining and collecting data.

Jul24: he revisits the WikiWay of Sense Making via Wiki NoteBook.

Aug05: he pitches the SFW approach of having lots of similar forks of pages "out there" rather than a single master page (as in Wikipedia) to have Edit War-s over. There are Too Few Wiki.

Aug08: he shows how awesome Link As You Think page-creation is.

Sept01: he gives clues on how to get started in using SFW in the classroom. (cf Student Wiki Web)

Sept22: he documents the classroom-management workflow that's working for him.

Oct14: he notes the awesomeness of Iterative Writing (of bushy HyperText).

Oct17: he gives a progress report on his "TL521" class's work.

Nov06: he gave a keynote at NWACC. He anchors the pitch with the story (cribbed from Steven Johnson) of Arthur C Clarke's idea for the GPS system back in 1945. * I hope this can open up an honest discussion about the ways in which Social Media is not serving our needs as it currently stands. As advocates we’re so often put in a situation where we have to defend the very idea that social media is an information sharing solution that we don’t often get to think about what a better solution for Collaboration would look like. Because there are problems with the way social media works now... We can build systems that return to the the vision of the forefathers of the web: Augmenting Human Intellect.*

I still feel the SFW approach is too Tightly Coupled, compared to the looser WikiWeb model. (And I really hope that SFW gets back to Smashed Together Words for Automatic Linking!)


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