Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Wiki...The Final Frontier...

Imagine the whole world uniting for one common purpose: to share wealths of information. Scratch that! There's no need to imagine as this concept already exists with Wikipedia. Such a site is possible through the use of wiki technology - the ability to let anonymous visitors freely edit a webpage at their own leisure.

As we speak, Wikipedia entries are updated very frequently (and in some cases, more than once a day). This prevents Wikipedia from ever becoming obsolete as long as Internet users continue to contribute. Besides the encyclopedia, the authors of the same site also created other Wiki-based sites which include...
  • Books (cookbooks, computer manuals, etc.)
  • Dictionary and Thesaurus
  • Directory of Species
  • Collection of Quotations
  • Updated News
Have no fear computer illiterate people! It's VERY easy to contribute information using wiki-technology! It resembles typing in Microsoft Word as users type in a white box in which the text is editable (ex: boldface & italicized). Wikipedia currently has a "sandbox" open to new users; this page allows those who are unfamiliar with wikis to practice before they actually edit real, legitimate content.

Like blogs, the design layout of a Wikipedia entry is similar to that of a blog. Let's use the entry on the Thirty Years' War as an example. This particular entry has a Table of Contents similar to that of a blog's "Recent Posts" box which allows visitors to navigate through different topics. It's also important to note that graphics and artwork are integrated into the text as it wraps around the images. There is also a great deal of interconnectivity as hyperlinks are abundant allowing for many entries to become linked to each other somehow.

Are wikis simply a fad that will fade away one day? How will wiki's emergence change the way we publish websites now? Is this new level of interactivity change the way producers deliver the news and consumers receive the news? It will be interesting to note the role that wikis play in our lives and on the Internet over the course of this next decade.


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