What's A Wiki?

My friend Billy asked me what a Wiki was yesterday. We talked about it a bit, but here I am to talk about it a bit more. A Wiki is an online repository of information that can be edited by just about anyone.

The most notable example is Wikipedia, a huge repository of all the information you'd ever need. Whenever I want to look up a technical term or just find general information on a topic, I go to Wikipedia for a good overview. Of course, not everything's in there, but that's mostly because somebody hasn't gotten around to writing on it. All this information is free to use, so if you have an area of expertise, why not join in and contribute to an article?

Another Wiki I'm very familiar with is the Homestar Runner Wiki. This has everything you'd ever need to know about the inside jokes on that Strong Bad email you just didn't get. Plus, most of them are there within hours of it getting posted on HomestarRunner.com. And, all these people did the work in finding those little hidden easter eggs, so you just read where they are and then go back and watch 'em.

The article that spawned an idea of a post was the following. Wired interviewed those who have made their hobby the updating of the Wikipedia. For them, the Wiki truly has become a way of life.



I was just thinking how interesting it was that your post on wikis corresponded within a day to my wiki learning rampage. Then I finished reading and realized that both where sparked by the Wired article.

Just recently I keep bumping into the wiki at c2.com. It was only yesterday that I learned that the wiki at c2 (aka. The Portland Pattern Repository, The Wiki, Ward's Wiki) was the original wiki, started by a guy by the name of Ward Cunningham in 1995. He's a pretty amazing guy. If you've ever heard of CRC cards, he invented that idea as well. There's some info on him on wikipedia, as well as on the Wiki.

I've spent some time trying to track this down, but I can't verify it. I think Ward is Christian. At some point, his wiki about software engineering started to get taken over by discussions about Christianity. In an entirely amicable way, that whole section of the wiki split off into the Why Clublet. There's even a link to it from the Wiki.

I ran into an interview with Ward in which he explains some of the basic ideas behind wikis. Here it is: http://www.artima.com/intv/wiki.html I've never come across it before, but artima.com looks like it has some good stuff.

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