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We talk about communities both online and offline: management, teaching, conflicts, mediation, and some tech talk mostly about tools used for online communities.
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Amit Patel writes about the move from unstructured to structured information. He says he loved to start writing in an unstructured environment such as Google Wave, work, comment, threads – but at the very end it was hard to move towards a structured set of documents:
Alex commented on the page and said: As a wiki developer I’m interested in this how to move unstructured page content into a structure.
He came up with a few use-cases:
I started to think of things I use that are already somewhat there.
I wrote a front-end for a wiki that essentially collects bookmarks. Note the link to a bookmarklet and the source code at the bottom. Take a look at the actual wiki collecting all these links. Note how the links on its HomePage and the unordered lists on the linked pages define the outline that is shown by the add-link script. Note that the wiki can be told to reassemble all these top-level pages, too. (Look for the “All In One” page.)
What do you think—is this a way out of the impasse?
People keep saying “reworking is hard” (→ LackOfReworking, AttackTheDocumentMode). And it is. People don’t do it. But imagine people trying to “rework” a conversation they’re having. Nobody does this! People sometimes “rework” conversations when they record interviews and rework those into articles to publish. But it’s rare compared to the gazillion of other forms of communications we have.
Let’s think of some:
People will summarize – and selecting parts of a page and saving it under a new name supports that. There’s an unsolved problem, unfortunately. The summary doesn’t belong to the LinkLanguage, since the old, messy page gets to keep the page name. Perhaps our support for summarizing should move the current page to the discussion page and just keep the summary.
People will reorder information – and moving pages to nodes on an outline supports that. The page itself remains untouched, of course. All we’re doing is putting a link into the appropriate nested list.
People will categorize
People will subscribe (or “follow”, or mark in some way to stay abreast)
People will share in a broadcasting way (think of “retweeting” etc).
In WikiPedia, refactoring can be frequent, especially on pages where many people want to control the narrative. Or. where rules tend to dictate a structure. WikiPedia appears to be a rare exception among wiki sites, however.
Why does it happen? Why is refactoring not common in wikis?
Do people see the activity as a “defecting” in cooperation dynamics? (meaning, do people see refactoring your work as a non-cooperative activity, and leaving your contribution/“voice” intact as a cooperative approach?). Do people need permission to change contents of wikis, in order to feel “ok” doing it?
Is there a way to set a recurring example, where at least 3 or more people consistently refactor as a primary activity?