Wikipedia and Wikitribune: Wiki collaboration for the love of WWW and social media

Wiki collaboration

Wiki Collaboration has permeated virtually to all forms of on-line collaboration and social media. It was a seed concept which was invented and developed in 1994, came to be used so widely today. The best example of Wiki collaboration, the Wikipedia, is the most referenced online content repository in the world.

Talking about Wiki collaboration, James wales, the Founder of Wikipedia has recently announced that he will be starting a new publication called the ‘Wikitribune‘ to cover fake news. James says, ‘Wikitribune’ would be a ‘news site with a sense of community’ with ‘Evidence-based journalism’ on the underline.

Wikitribune
Wikitribune

Wikitribune will bring together the public and the journalists on the same plane. Wikitribune will project facts as it is and news content will be taken out of bias. It will be unrestricted for all with a genuine sense of community. Commendable.

I am not going to talk about -what ails Wikipedia? or the rise and decline of Wikipedia. There has been a number of articles written on the decline. I feel that there is a lot to learn from Wikipedia. Now with the announcement of the Wikitribune, my sincere hunch is that it would reverse the trend for the better.

Vannevar Bush, the celebrated engineer, inventor and administrator must be one happy man in his grave. He left a legacy and passed away. His invention of the Memex in the 1930’s, led to the development of the internet as we know today. The memex also led to the development of the Wiki collaboration software.

Please read our blog article “The global brain and graph theory”.

Wiki collaboration

It was in 1994, Ward Cunningham the inventor of Wiki software, was inspired by Vannevar’s ideas on Memex and further developed it into a software where people can share and collaboratively edit documents.

His desire was that people can collaboratively contribute and talks about their experiences by adding and editing content without much technical know-how on computers.

There are thousands of active wikis in use around the world. They are used as team collaboration software, knowledge management tools, corporate intranets and community forum websites.

You can read more on ‘Wiki collaboration’ on this Wikipedia reference site.

What is a Wiki?

A wiki is an online software that lets you share and collaboratively modify and edit contents and documents with others using a simple web browser.

Did you know: Wiki is a Hawaiian name, which means ‘Quick’.

Wikipedia: the best known Wiki collaboration software

I was amazed to know that about 10 billion people visit the Wikipedia in a month for the English version alone. No wonder it is the 6th most widely read magazine in the world.

An article from MIT technology review from Tim simonite was a thought to provoke. Though the article was written in 2013, the title of the article ” The decline of Wikipedia’ caught my attention’. You can find the article here.

I saw some valid points. Apart from that I have not seen much written about it in the recent years. There is one from Andrew Lih titled ” Can Wikipedia survive” published in the Newyork times. You can find the article here.

A lot to learn from Wikipedia

I came to know that there were a lot of improvements that Wikipedia was working on, ground up. Surely, there must have been a lot of challenges that Wikipedia as a Wiki collaboration software would have faced over the years.

How did Wikipedia face them and what were those? What are lessons that we can learn from its journey?
are the few questions that came up to me.

There is a social instinct in all of is to collaborate and contribute content. We do it for the greater good. Wiki collaboration needs a good dose of altruism. On this take, Wikipedia is a strong example of wiki collaboration and stands tall as a beacon.

Its success and sustainability are far more important to students, academicians and knowledge seekers of the world than to the volunteer professionals who regularly edit and contribute content.
Though Wikipedia in the recent past has suffered from a lack of young contributors, it is still doing fine.

There is no centralized control. No restriction. Anybody can contribute. The Wikipedia foundation is a non-profit organization and yet the volunteers contribute on their own free will. A commendable sense of community spirit. They are a set of passionate folks. They do it for the ‘Love of the WWW (World wide web)’.

There is a lot to learn from Wikipedia as a channel for wiki collaboration. Though Wikipedia has been so popular, it is not been seen as social media tool by many. Perhaps, the founders and volunteers need to shape it up in such a way so as to encourage a lot of public contribution.

Best practices for Wiki collaboration

There has been no alternative to Wikipedia so far, as a Wiki collaboration tool. It is online collaboration at its best.

A good characteristic which distinguishes itself from others is the concept of NPOV (Neutral point of view). Wikipedia depends on its volunteers to update and contribute information. The final information that is presented to the user is neutral in nature.

Volunteers update information from various sources. Some may agree and some may not agree on the information presented. The contentions and disputes among volunteers on information sources and claims are quickly resolved. What finally is presented is the information on a topic or subject matter from a neutral point of view (NPOV). A good best practice that even today, there are many regulations on information management and databases that are derived from it.

Another important practice that Wikipedia does is to weed out vandalized information on a continuous basis. Online Wiki collaboration has its bane as well. Any good information found on the internet which is free and easy to edit and collaborate is also prone to information being vandalized. The volunteer editors at Wikipedia have a very tight network where they immediately discard unwanted information in a matter of minutes.

You can also read our article: The age of social media- How participation makes it a way of life.

The LA Times Example

Many other publications had tried to emulate the success of Wikipedia. One such example which is worth mentioning is “LA Times“. LA times introduced ‘Wikitorials’ which was shortlived. They introduced it with the intent that the public would edit and collaborate with each other to work on their editorial page. But with the absence of dedication and commitment from the administrators and volunteers, the site was quickly vandalized by some elements in the public. They had to shut it down.

So, it was the sheer dedication and the spirit of community among the Wikipedia volunteers that led to its success. Maintaining such a comprehensive repository of information and knowledge on the public domain is no mean challenge for Wiki collaboration.

There was harmony among the volunteers to produce content which was acceptable to everyone. It was done for the ‘love of the World Wide Web’.

Off-late some pitfalls

Wikipedia was at its peak in 2005 and its English language version was the most visited reference site in the world. Andrew Lih in his New York times article talks about the staff crunch that Wikipedia faces.

It was said that they had about 60 editors who were allocated for admin roles in a month. Now, it is hard to allocate even one editor in a month.

The number of volunteers who contribute new information is dwindling. There is a dearth of young contributors, who have the potential and zest to write about topics, agrees Tim Simonite from the MIT Technology review.

Obviously, there seems to be a generational gap within the old timers who stick to the traditional approach for updating information and are unwilling to change. Wiki collaboration has to change with the time. The newcomers and the younger generation want information to be updated on the new mobile computing infrastructure. There is a learning curve attached as well. These governance issues need to be sorted out.

The Wikipedia foundation which runs the administration and infrastructure portions have plans to bring in new software and editing capabilities, to steer the way the Wiki collaboration happens among the volunteers.

It is time now that Wikipedia is used by its users as a social media tool as well. Just like how Facebook serves as an entertainment social media. Wikipedia should place itself as a ‘knowledge social media’. Though I have been hearing talks, I haven’t seen any ‘share’ or ‘thank’ buttons incorporated yet.

The Final word

Wikipedia will succeed and overcome its challenges. It is a matter of time. There is now enough impetus with the introduction of Wikitribune. As a Wiki collaboration software, Wikipedia offers us many lessons to learn not just about how Wiki collaboration should function and work but on the remarkable spirit of community and for the power of free expression.

A further reading resource is from The Guardian.

Cheers.

Why social media likes, tweets, shares are the best things since cheeseburger

social media likes

Social media likes and shares truly resonate with the individual’s on-line identity, others perception and social acceptance within the group.

The cheeseburger is an all-American iconic food. It is as close to America one can get. Loved by all. It is the burger bread, with the cheese and the meat patty sandwiched in between. In some parts of the world, we know it as just the cheese and the burger bread.

The Cheeseburger was invented in the early part of the twentieth century in America. It served not only as a quick businessman’s meal for busy office goers but also for the hungry industrial workers in the factories. It was the common man’s food with all the plain good old goodness and kindness cooked in it.

Exactly after about 100 years, we have the social media boom! Facebook’s ‘Like’ and the Twitter’s ‘tweet’ have become iconic pretty much the same way.

There’s something about the social media likes, tweets, and shares that we have made it as a way of life ! cheese or not, it’s special with the plain good old goodness and kindness in each and every ‘like’ and ‘Share’ we love clicking so much.

Social media likes for the love of business brands

Having said that, in the recent months, there have been a number of articles which have come out on the importance of a Facebook “Like”. With titles such as, “What is the value of a like?” from Harvard Business review has been quite popular. You can click for the article here.

Brands spend billions of dollars on major social media platforms for promoting their brand’s social media presence. Almost 80% of the companies in the world have a Facebook page presence. ‘Social media likes’ is big business.

In spite of the brand promotions, branded content and endorsements the consumer (social media users) behavior has been quite different and it is not in the way, the marketers perceive.

Conclusive research studies from Harvard Business Review (Thanks to the authors !) have shown that –

Just because somebody endorses a brand with a ‘like’, it does not mean that they would make a purchase decision to buy or become a follower for life.
Their friend’s purchase decision and endorsement on social media do not influence them either.

This consumer behavior has left the marketers confused. The reasons for such behavior have been attributed to Facebook’s algorithm of providing a highly personalized experience to its users.

But the truth is far from it.

To ‘Like’ and ‘not Like and ‘to Share’ and ‘not share’ is deeply embedded in our human nature.

We want to be autonomous, connected, have the freedom and competency to choose and express and at the same time be disconnected and be remote to the proceedings. There is an element of connection and disconnection to social media likes and to life as a whole.

Social media likes are influenced by feelings of general connection and disconnection to life

I happen to read an article from The Spectator recently. Which led to me ask this question.

Who is a misanthrope?

I was quite bewildered when I read that word in the article. I was scrambling to get the dictionary to look up for the meaning.

Well, to be honest, I am hearing the word for the first time in my life. Excuse me for I am a non-native English writer nor have any previous journalistic experience.

Continue reading

The age of social media: our participation, makes it a way of life

In the age of social media discussion on a topic

This is the age of social media. Whether we agree to it or not, we are drawn towards it, participate and interact with it. It is a massive crowd: It is happening right now, as you read this. Being an individual is important. Our recent article published in ‘Medium’ talks through it. Please find the article below.

View story at Medium.com

Through our active participation in social media and making it as a way of life, we have given rise to a quite of a number of internet sub-cultures.

What I mean here is that,

Have you noticed that there are crowd sub-cultures abound everywhere?

Whether you are buying a laptop or an automobile or even still shopping online for your favorite wardrobe, you will find specific crowds thronging the site commenting and discussing ‘what they like and don’t like’ about the brands and to a great extent influence the buying decision of others.

This is exactly what the authors of the article “Branding in the age of social media”  from the Harvard Business Review talk about. You can click here for the article.

The rise of the new age of social media

Historically, cultural innovations and the so-called  “New age cultures” have always risen from the fringes of the society. Their mass social movements and voices never gathered steam. They have always challenged the conventional norms and tradition.

Their (people from the fringes of society) ideas and their way of life, have been borrowed by the mainstream companies and media houses.  The companies acted as intermediaries and packaged it as branded content and diffused it across the rest of the world.

Over the years, this branded content had become popular culture. Such packaging and marketing used to work back in the days, but no longer now.

The age of Social media has changed all of that.

The ‘internet crowd’ and their culture is the new competition.

The social interaction between such fringe communities and cultures that were once geographically spread out are now more intensely connected. The communities now collaborate with each other.  They have become interconnected dense networks and have far-reaching influence. Their influence is substantial.

The feedback is quite direct and accurate. This is the new age of social media and the rise of crowd culture. The Internet and social media crowd cultures over time have given rise to many sub-cultures in every genre. You name it and there is one.

In essence, brands and the brand strategy have to cater to the sub-cultures that exist for your product and service. This is essential for your brand to be successful and to stand out. We will discuss this in another post.

We are not far from the madding crowd

Talking about crowds, in the late nineteenth century, The English author,  Thomas Hardy, named his novel as “Far from the madding crowd”. Apparently, he had borrowed the phrase from an English poem.

Nevertheless, the phrase has caught our imagination and has ever since been ingrained in our popular culture. We refer to it very often.

The word “madding” means being frenzied or in a rush of mad excitement. The title appears to be fancy for the novel. It is not even remotely connected to the story nor with the plight of the main protagonist “Bathsheba Everdene”.

That apart,

The irony is we all still live in a crowd. The world is a crowd and we haven’t lost our individuality. There is a popular perception that with the rise of the crowds, there is the demise of the individual. It is not the case.

With this brief introduction, read the article above that was published on “Medium” recently.

It explains, why being an individual is important even though we are part of a crowd and our individuality is not lost in the age of social media.

Cheers.