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Panelists: WardCunningham, JimmyWales, RossMayfield.

Moderator: SunirShah

More pictures: see WikiSymTwoThousandFive and http://wiki.wikisym.org/space/Flickr+Images


The Future of Wikis cannot be decided by a panel of four people. Wikis are built and decided by the people using them. This panel will be inverted. Rather than the panelists talking to the audience, the audience will talk to the panelists.

During this session, the audience will be asked to come forward with gripes, visions, and solutions based on their wiki experiences. Since just as many people in the audience are decision makers as participants in the wiki community, this will give each camp an opportunity to actually hear each other.

SunirShah, the moderator, will take notes in an online wiki at http://meatballsociety.org/cgi-bin/future. Each note will be a link where the audience will be free to add detailed notes either during the session or in the weeks afterwards. Participants not in San Diego will be able to contribute virtually to this wiki as well, and an IRC channel irc://irc.freenode.net/#wikifuture will be open for them to contribute.

The objective of this panel is to identify major sore spots with wikis today, envision solutions, and then organize people to execute.

Volunteers needed

I need some virtual volunteers please to facilitate the wiki and IRC channel during the session (and beyond). Anyone interested? -- SunirShah

Original pitch

I was thinking about the difference between WikiMania? and other conferences. At WikiMania?, the talks, even the keynotes, were honest attempts to address some issue with the community that the presenter thought was worth raising. The room as a community often then worked on addressing the issue together.

Contrast this to normal conferences where a talking head blabs at the audience for a half an hour, hoping to provoke enough animosity to get good questions.

I think the idea of the panel as the community leaders telling us about where they think the community should go is not good leadership. We could pretend we are smart, but that would only alienate the audience.

I think since we are all community leaders, and our audience will be made up of our respective communities, we should take this unique opportunity to lead the communities as parts of a single cohesive wider community.

That of course means being quiet and letting them tell us where they want to go.

My proposal is this:

Rather than us talking for 90 minutes, I propose we turn the session into one large group facilitation session.

After the panel introduces themselves (10 minutes)

I will introduce the format (5 minutes).

I will create a wiki where I will take notes. My notes will be links to new pages. That way people can fill in details during the session if they have wireless laptops or are watching from afar.

I'll structure the session to rotate first through the panel for a few rounds of brainstorming. Once the audience warms up, I'll start asking the audience to come to the mike to start pitching their concerns and ideas.

My general preferred structure is 20 minutes of brainstorming complaints, then 20 minutes of brainstorming the ideal situation, and then 20 minutes of brainstorming solutions to get from here to the ideal situation.

At the end, we'll have a long list of gripes, ideas, solutions, projects, interests that will give us a better idea of what people are actually thinking.

We can then spend the last 15 minutes reflecting on what we will do as community leaders.

This wiki will also persist beyond the conference so it can hopefully lead to action or further refinement. I'll do my best to get people to pay attention to it.

Also, it will show people who don't know what a wiki is the social difference between the wiki approach and the traditional approach.

If it succeeds well, it will address the rather lame title, "Future of Wikis" by creating the future of wikis! -- SunirShah


I just come back from a wiki-workshop at the "remote learning conference" at Hamburg. I was astonished to hear how many wikis are already installed or about to be installed at schools and universities. It was interesting to meet AnjaEbersbach, she co-authored the German book WikiTools which has already been translated to English and she is just starting her thesis on "scientific work as collaborative learning with wikis" (my translation). Although we were at a traditional e-learning conference, with CMS/CACL booths all around, the athmosphere was very wiki-friendly. I think the future of wiki is already overhauling us. -- HelmutLeitner

I suggest using a real-time collaborative editor (see http://www.communitywiki.org/CollaborativeEditor, or ask Lion or Mattis if there are questions; I think Gobby and MoonEdit are the two front-runners right now, but I'm not sure) for live note-taking. A wiki will just frustrate people with edit conflicts (assuming the spirit of massive participation takes hold).

Of course eventually a wiki with real-time editing capability would be even better, but I'm not aware of any right now (maybe some proprietary ones exist, though? does SocialText?). -- BayleShanks

Try JotSpot Live (http://jotlive.com) perhaps. -- ChrisPurcell

Oh, now that would be a clever way to get fired. -- SunirShah

See SynchroEdit -- it's open source. Socialtext is one of the backers of the project. -- AdinaLevin

Don't know where to put this: I've translated a few wikipages into Spanish - I look back and the original has changed. I need a way to monitor this and have a diff page to help me in translating. This would be tremendously helpful in translating http://www.fluwikie.com in case a flu pandemic comes around. LGSzeroA? at yahoo dot com.

AlainDésilets does it. His wiki keeps translated pages parallel and shows when pages become unsynchronized and shows the diff compared to the last synchronized state side by side with the translation text. -- HelmutLeitner

Anyone have transcripts for the IRC channel irc://irc.freenode.net/#wikifuture and/or #wikisym ?

People told me that they enjoyed the panel. I'm glad. I tried very hard to make the panel be quiet so we could hear more from the audience. That being said, my desire was to run a FutureWorkshop?, and that failed for a number of reasons that I'll reflect on. However, I think the idea is still sound. I'd like to keep running something in the vein of Pains-Vision-Solutions, even if it were limited to the scope to deciding how to change Meatball. What did people think? Do people think? -- SunirShah

I also enjoyed it. But I also found that the audience turned it too much into a technical wishlist. I think that the future of wikis will not be driven by the imagination of the developers but by the needs and the visions of the users. How will wiki need to change technically and socially to fully support schools or an university, a newspaper audience or a political party? What do authors of a book or collaborating scientists need? We will see dozens of new applications of wiki. The future of wiki is huger than we dare to envision. -- HelmutLeitner

Sunir, it was great. Was it perfect, no. You, we, us - learned a ton from that workshop as well as from the whole conference. You have nothing but kudos from me. Helmut is right, the future is big, working collaboratively we can work to fill it. Thanks to all who participated! -- MarkDilley p.s. what is that thinking thing you are talking about?

The page http://meatballsociety.org/ has a link to "Future of Wikis http://meatballsociety.org/cgi-bin/future ". Alas, clicking on that link gives me an "Internal Server Error".

Should there be a wiki at that URL? Or should we merge all the content that used to be there into Meatball, and make that link simply redirect to some appropriate page at Meatball?

Later, someone should probably update http://wikiindex.org/Future_of_Wikis_Wiki .



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