Wiki creation myths






Please include a summary of the discussion, any recommendations or requests that the group had, and any resources the group noted regarding the topic.

This card needs to be merged with "Creation Myths of Wiki" and just a redirect left here.


History of wiki:

First collaboration site titled wiki: other side of West Hills on inexpensive PC serving via 14.4 modem

Site ran fast b/c kept demands low. LIttle to no graphics

Peter & Trudy Johnson-Lenz - 1977. EIES early email system, used for collaborative projects. Developed tools for collaboration because could alter high level code of software. Community a thread throughout their work; communities have been solving many of the same problems over time. Interested in face to face community development.

Why the word wiki: Sought to find a way to build pages fast using his markup. Wiki wiki = very fast. Ultimately, wiki term was used because of unix commands (lower case, shortened).

Collaboration was key goal from beginning. Idea was to facilitate building of short essays on different topics. Influenced by Apple's Hypercard system, which had desktop analog to red links in MW software.

T J-L: Creating links to stubs inspires people to complete.

Ward: Influenced by Christopher Alexander's ideas about city growth (lots of individuals doing their own things) and bringing them to computer programming.

(Alexander): Pattern language - there is a language of building that is analogous to natural language.


Talk mentioned by Howard:

The Origins of Pattern Theory
the Future of the Theory,
And The Generation of a Living World
Christopher Alexander

The following presentation was recorded live in San Jose, California,  October of 1996, at The 1996 ACM Conference on Object-Oriented Programs, Systems, Languages and Applications (OOPSLA).


Portland pattern repository - write the pattern language of programs. Create "liveable" programs, things that people would enjoy using. Ward was asked by grad students to build tools to collaborate on the pattern language project on the net (PLOP 1994). Use form submission plus translator to create documents. Started to perceive the power of the system. Invited a few people to try things out, build pages about themselves, etc. March 1995 started to really get things rolling.

Colin's experience:
1996 - Didn't think it was going anywhere. Editable html forms were supposed to be part of the original html protocol (for scientists to collaborate). But the browser's didn't end up implementing that.

Berners-Lee credits WP with realizing some of the early vision of what the web was supposed to be.

"You have to believe that not done is better than done." - in terms of things such as encyclopedias, being done means not being current.

It's not the same as the wisdom of the crowds - i.e., not an average of everyone's ideas - instead, it's the efforts on the right person or people that make the difference.

Another Alexander idea that applies is that some place that places with people are more appealing than places without. Same with wikis (and restaurants) - social proof.

Interlinking of pages on the wiki lead to enhanced Google rankings. This high ranking of Google lead to first wiki spamming - people wanted to create pages there just because it ranked well.

Mission of original site: to write the pattern language that changes how we write programs in the Alexanderian sense. Pair programming ideas influenced by this.

Hierarchy in corporations is less relevant than it used to be because communication is so enhanced relative to the days in which these structures involved, when everything involved paper and etc.

Mark Laporte (Tiki Wiki) - doing websites in 1999, ecommerce. Using early CMS systems so clients could post content themselves. Found problems with turnover and etc. with employees. Came across wiki, determined it was the solution to the problem. Tiki Wiki is current project - large combination of wiki and CMS system. Wiki concept applied to software development. Very liberal commit policy. Despite this, relatively few rollbacks. Very few rules to follow. Big challenge is managing growth without burning out community. Everything in Tiki Wiki is part of the core code (vs. most other open source projects with small core and many modules). Small group of most dedicated community members are on a mailing list where they see all commits to the project.




Short description

This session covered some of the ideas that led to the development of Ward's Wiki, particularly pattern languages, some of the history of the wiki, and others' experiences with his wiki or when they became inspired by the wiki concept.


Remember to link to this session from the Session notes.

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