ThoughtStorms Wiki

Context: EndUserProgramming

Stop thinking about Wiki as a collaboration space for a minute. Stop thinking about traditional ideas of hypertext.

Think of Wiki as a user interface to something. It has a set of resources (pages) and users can string them together in any order or network configuration they need.

Imagine if all your software applications had this property ... no multiple windows, no fixed structured menus, no toolbars. Just recognfigurable blocks.

A plausible application is the "wiki as configurable CorporateDashboard". Imagine a personal wiki which lets you embed RSS feeds, data scraped from other sites, basic spreadsheet like calculations (as TWiki already does), which has some basic graphing facility, which perhaps acts as a front end to your email.

These functions would be added to pages using a simple conventions. And links could be created to script function calls. But the important thing would be that it was the user who laid out the pages and the components within pages.

ReFactoring the wiki would be equivalent to refactoring the information flows within the organization (which in some organizations my verge on RefactoringTheOrganization)

It is a good idea, a workable one as well, but the interface has to be much much less technical, both in the feel and language.

Oh right, so now I realize this :

Posted this as a comment to :

I think wiki has two important ideas which can be adopted separately.*

  • writable by anyone
  • quickness of authoring, organizing and refactoring

Most people focus on the first. But I think the second is going to become more influential. Wiki is so plastic. Anyone can set up their own personal view on it by creating their own index and classification scheme. In parallel.

This is something which the software industry hasn't got yet. When I buy a house I can arrange the furniture the way I want. Why, when I buy a piece of software, am I stuck with the pages, windows and menus define by the company? Why isn't there an "edit" button at the bottom of every drop-down menu, to change the available options? Why can't I change the order of pages or prefil fields in the Wizards?

Most people want something that's configured OK out of the box. But as they start to live inside their software, they need more freedom to rearrange it to streamline their work.

Right now, I think wiki is the most successful example of providing this flexibility to users. But in 10 years time, the concept may be as obvious and as ubiquitous as the GUI interface itself.

Someone (looking for link) recently pointed out users don't like to configure software for themselves. They almost always live with the pre-sets. I think this isn't because they don't want to configure, but because configuraiton is too hard. In particular there's a separation between using and configuring. Configuring (however allegedly simple) is conceptually separate. You need to think more abstractly about what you want to do and UsersFindAbstractionHard.

But wiki collapses the distinction between abstract and concrete. It's all words on a page, whether they're links which are creating the structure of the information space, or the content of the space itself. The distinction between removing an item from one list to another, and moving a subsection from one place to another is negligable.

See also ConcreteToAbstract

While I am sceptical of the Wiki as uber-interface thing, there are certainly interesting ways for wiki usage to be expanded. For example the FITTestingFramework enables a wiki to become a very useful tool for enabling non-developers to write acceptance tests using exactly the sort of modular structure discussed above – AdrianHoward

I've been riffing on slightly similar thoughts - BillSeitz:UniversalInbox. I'm hoping OSAF's Chandler becomes the toolbox for me to do such things eventually... –BillSeitz

See Bnoopy's great post on TheLongTail

Compare :

See also :

CategoryWiki, CategoryDesign, CategorySoftware, CategoryUserInterface