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Wikis and Wikipedia

Wikis are a quite common concept nowadays. They seem to have proven useful and are in use for the TechEd, too. Here is a short overview on Wikis to express the tendencies the community is steering to when working with them. Especially Wikipedia seems to be a platform seen as innovative.

What is a Wiki?

Wikis are a relatively new way of ad-hoc knowledge management. For more general information about Wikis, see the link provided above.
Wikis are an easy way of quickly building up a knowledge base. Its structure allows for individual participation and helps maintain information thru a self-cleaning process. They have been invented by famous Ward Cunningham nearly 10 years ago.
The word wiki has been deduced from the Hawaiianian word wiki which means fast.In cotract to a wiki stands a blog, take the one for being successful online as an example.

Knowledge and Knowledge Management

The terms knowledge and knowledge management play an information role with Wikis. Here are some definitions, adapted from gantthead (registration required):

Knowledge is information in context to produce an actionable understanding.
Knowledge can be seen as information in a specific context. It is the ability to act, based on given information and an identified context.

Knowledge management helps an organization identify, create, capture, acquire, share and leverage knowledge.
Systematic process support these activities, also enabling replication of successes.

Wikipedia

A very popular representant for Wikis is wikipedia. A german article about wikipedia can be found at Spiegel Online.
Wikipedia is a near-huge knowledge pool created with voluntary help of many individuals. One could argue that the quality of articles positioned by sort of anonymous persons cannot be seen as reliable from any perspective. But it seems that with the possibility of allowing others to edit and maintain articles from other editors has a self cleaning effect.

Conclusion

Wikis provide an easy mechanism creating ad-hoc databases storing knowledge. Their applicability ranges from private issues to company-wide nets.
The very easy mechanism of camel words (e.g. [AWordWithMoreThanOneCapitalLetter]) helps building a network of related and connected information on the fly. As simple as this concept appears as powerful it proved. Some Wikis turned away from CamelWords. They use a substituting mechanism like words embedded in double square brackets.
Try out Wikis for yourself, if you have not already done. In a project a wiki is a helpful tool entering information in a sort of structured way, available on the intra- or internet. Chose your destiny.

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