I know I’ve been talking about Wikipedia a lot lately, but take a look at this and see if you don’t agree that it’s cool. Follow the link to see live recent changes to the site. You’ll see changes to articles flying by as they’re being submitted (which is quite rapidly). If you see one that strikes your fancy, like, say, Abelian von Neumann algebra, then click on it to go to the article, or better yet, click on the diff link and see only the part that’s being changed. This reminds me of those old pages that showed realtime search queries, only instead of sucking knowledge out of cyberspace, this is working the other way around.
And in what I promise will be absolutely my last wiki link for the next fifteen minutes, here is wiki creator (and now Microsoft employee) Ward Cunningham being interviewed for Wikimedia’s Quarto publication. Ever wonder what a wiki is? Here’s the answer from the guy who invented them.
Here’s what I think a wiki is: content before community. Low latency to correction. The workflow of submission starts with publication – publish and then edit. Trivial creation of new pages, to let them grow to the right size. And a community provided by RecentChanges — the ability to see what other editors are doing, encouraging visitors to go from readers to authors to editors.
In other words, lower the barriers to participation and stand back.