On the front page of section B of today’s Wall Street Journal is an article about wikis, and prominently features what we’re doing at Socialtext. (If you subscribe to WSJ.com, you can read the article here.)
Enter the wiki, which has aims to revive the idea of the “writable Web,” which was how the medium itself was originally conceived by many of its earliest proponents. Using simple software, it allows anyone with Web access to post a page of information that is accessible to anyone else in the same group or organization. Others in the group can then modify, enhance or update it. To keep track of changes, old versions are retained. A wiki has been likened by some to a giant digital white board in a constant state of movement and creation.
… Indeed, the creation of communal fabric is one that a wiki revives, says Clay Shirky, an interactive telecommunications professor at New York University, who has written extensively about the beneficial uses of social software like wikis in the workplace. “It’s got to be a fluid, ongoing conversation to work,” he says, noting that too much emphasis on the Internet has been about attracting giant passive audiences to Web sites over which they have little control. “But suddenly, people are realizing that perhaps the most human value actually occurs in smaller groups.”