In Hawaii wiki means “quick”. On the web it’s a wiki you goto to find the information you need – now! (Idle Thought: Just how many people answer questions on radio quiz shows while key-tapping on a Wiki or Google? I have sometimes searched for an answer to a puzzler – but not as a participant!).
The most well known Wiki is of course Wikipedia. It’s essentially an online encyclopedia that has been around since 2001 and has become a very popular way to get some quick facts and figures. It is often criticised for being inaccurate, with concerns over the “independent” nature of the edits made by anonymous contributors. There have been some interesting “edits” made on Wikipedia. Like Pepsi changing some adverse comments on the effects of Pepsi on your health; someone at the New York Times adding the word “jerk” many times in an entry on George Bush..and many more. How were these edits found out? Well try WikiScanner – a site that allows you to check what IP address made anonymous edits on Wikipedia and then that IP address can be linked to a particular organisation. Wikipedia itself has a good article on the WikiScanner.
But Wikis can be much, much more. Anyone can set up a Wiki. You can even get one hosted for free. I have personal experience in using Wikis. I am helping build an Oral Histories Wiki for my local community. All that are involved can log in and make edits and additions. In another example, our community are doing something local in relation to Climate Change by establishing a Wiki network where information can be exchanged – like car-pooling, buying fresh food locally and so on – visit the Channel Community Network Wiki.
Wikis are these days increasingly used by all manner of groups, organisations and businesses for collaborative access and contribution to a diverse range of data. A good blog that covers many of the issues relating to the rise and rise of Wikis is Grow Your Wiki – it has a great range of articles on Wikis and Web2 – well worth a look.
To get you started here is a short list of free Wikis: