Collaborative construction can be a very powerful force. I believe that the shared knowledge of a group will always be greater than the knowledge of a lone person. In order for a wiki to be successful – that is, to attract content creators and editors and users, to create a community around it – the knowledge to be represented within it shoud be clearly delineated. Wikipedia‘s three content policies do just this: provide a working definition of knowledge, which guides acceptable content creation and maintenance. First, a neutral point of view (NPOV) must be maintained; second, entries must pass the test of verifiability (V); and last, no original research (NOR) may appear in any entry.

For a library’s user group to benefit from a wiki, policies must be set in place that will define its intent, explain the technique/procedures by which a user can contribute, and explain the philosophy of collaborative creation. Finally, there should be a policy regarding repeated “attacks” on content, the online version of graffiti, should anyone become so noxious that banning them from contributing will serve the greater good of the community.

Soft security is a friendlier version of Bentham’s panopticon, being less about preventing and punishing mistakes than with rectifying them. Isn’t this the boss we all want to be, the boss we all want to work for?

Speaking of the library as workplace, I have been sketching out ideas for a staff-oriented wiki for the academic library I work for. A round of applause for the team behind the Antioch University New England Library and Staff Support Training Wiki. I love the fact that it is available for all to see, because I can then learn from their work; they’ve provided a strong model for what can be done to successfully manage knowledge capital. I see pros and cons for having their procedures so open to the public, though; on that, I need to research and think some more.

For those wanting a quick introduction to the topic, here’s Lee LeFever with Wikis in Plain English.  Enjoy.


1 Comment

  1. All of this talk of wikis and security really gets me thinking about the safety of information on the internet. With social software, like wikis, unless we actively patrol content, it can be damaged – just like any other library property. Regardless, we can password protect our wikis when we are planning a conference or a meeting – but does the password go against the ‘openness’ of wiki?

    Great video, I have watched many times before and can never get bored of it!

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