Wikis - Fast is the right word!

For my second "thing" I decided to explore the world of wikis.  I had no idea there were so many wikis out there!  I learned that wiki comes from the Hawaiian phrase "wiki wiki" meaning quick or fast.  My experience with wikis has taught me that word is very appropriate!

I was familiar with Wikipedia, which is an open source encyclopedia, meaning that anyone can contribute to it.  I use Wikipedia quite often, most recently to read the synopsis of the first two books in a series of three.  I was getting ready to read the third book, but since it had been so long since I had read the first two books, I wanted to refresh my memory of what had occurred up to that point.

I was amazed to learn that there are hundreds of thousands of wikis out there!  Some are public, open to anyone, and some are private.  The CIA supposedly has it's own wiki, CIA Wiki, which is internal and classified.  I wasn't able to confirm or deny its existence!

I was especially intrigued by WikiTravel, which includes travel news and alerts such as the protests that are currently going on in Egypt.  I visited the WikiTravel site for Tampa, FL and for St Petersburg, FL since I live in Tampa.  I noticed that the St Petersburg site did not have any information about the Chihuly Collection that recently opened in St Petersburg, so I decided to add information about the collection to the site.  It took me longer to visit the site for the Chihuly Collection and get the information I needed than it did for me to add the information about the collection to the WikiTravel site!  Definitely fast!   (The Chihuly Collection is a permanent collection of works of glass art by the world-renowned artist Dale Chihuly in case you are interested!)

I also visited Library Success: A Best Practices Wiki.  The creator of this wiki realized that all the information being shared about the profession on blogs was not available in any one place for people to find, so they created this wiki in an attempt to collect and organize that information.

Libraries can use wikis in many ways, both internally and externally.  Internally wikis can be used by staff to collaborate on projects or to brainstorm on issues or problems.  Externally libraries can use wikis to provide information to patrons such as information about resources the library offers, community resources, even provide book reviews to give patrons ideas for future books to read.  Just as with blogs, uses for wikis are limited only by the imagination.

The primary disadvantage of wikis is that because they are open source, anyone can contribute, and what they contribute may not always be accurate.  Users of wikis need to understand that.  Personally I agree with Ian who posted on that "Despite its disadvantages, a wiki is a good way of gathering facts quickly and pooling expertise from a large number of people."  

Now that I know about the wide universe of wikis, I anticipate I will explore that universe more often!


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