Archive for the 'Wiki' Category


Friday, June 27th, 2008

Interesting project by the University of California Santa Cruz (UCSC) Wiki Lab: WikiTrust, a project in studying author repuation and text trust on Wikipedia.

How is the trust computed?

The trust of text is computed in two steps:

  • First, we compute the reputation of each author by analyzing the author’s contributions. When an author makes a contribution that is preserved in subsequent edits, the author gains reputation. When an author makes a contribution that is undone or reverted quickly, the author loses reputation.
  • The trust value of a new word is proportional to the reputation of its author. When subsequent authors edit the page, words that are left unchanged gain trust: by leaving them there, the authors implicitly agree with them. Words closer to the edit gain more trust, as the author of the edit is likely to have paid more attention to them. In contrast, text that has been rearranged (new text, text at the border of cut-and-paste, etc) has again a reputation proportional to the author of the edit.

See a demo or learn more on their blog.

Via ReadWriteWeb: WikiTrust Evaluates Wikipedia Text by Author Reputation

Virtual Petition

Tuesday, January 8th, 2008

Another e-participation project I just came across today: Virtual Petition

Looks like things are just getting started. From their first (and so far only) petition, here’s the instructions they give:

  • To sign your name, click on the edit button on the top of the screen, find the right place, add your name, then hit “save page”.
  • If this issue gains enough signatures it will be submitted to our elected officials and to our news outlets. Thank You.
  • Why the Presidential Elections are Broken
  • To debate this issue please post on the discussion page
  • Everyone is invited to help refine the above paragraphs.

Interesting, as always, though I have yet to find an example of wiki-based dialogue and deliberation that actually works.

Here are some of the issues I see with a pure wiki approach:

  • Unstructured, flat text — Almost impossible to slice and dice data in meaningful ways (generally true for most wikis, as far as I can tell): Which arguments or ideas are viewed more often than others? Which are considered relevant? What’s the level of agreement for each item?
  • Little to no process support — Workflow, business logic etc. are practically non-existent on most wikis (and while oftentimes that is exactly the reason why they are so useful, in this case it’s a considerable weakness)
  • Scalability issues — Ever try to run a vote on a wiki with 1,000+ participants? Now try that while the content of the item you’re voting on is in flux.
  • Fairly limited (or at least very loosely structured) social networking capabilities — Who are my friends? What do they think? How can they help me filter information or peer activities?

Having said that, there’s always the chance someone can figure out these things in entirely new ways. In that sense, best of luck to Virtual Petition.

Change agent at work

Monday, November 12th, 2007

Just for the record:

  • Late March (immediately after landing the job) — Started pushing for team/group/department wiki.
  • April 15, 2007 — Started spreading some Twitter love.
  • April 19, 2007 — Started evangelizing the unconference format and its potential benefits in and around the enterprise.
  • No later than early May 2007 — Started pointing folks to Silicon Valley’s vibrant Lunch 2.0 movement.
  • Etc.

Since then:

  • July 2007 — First internal Lunch 2.0 at Oracle.
  • August 2007 — Oracle is BarCampBlock sponsor.
  • September 2007 — Department wiki launches (internal).
  • October 2007 — First public Oracle Lunch 2.0.
  • November 2007 — Public wiki launches, OpenWorld comes nicely bundled with an unconference, Twitter seems to be all over the place at Oracle.
  • Etc.

Of course, none of this would have been possible if it wasn’t for the curiosity, open-mindedness and drive of a number of other people at Oracle (both inside and outside the sphere of influence a small team like ours can command). That’s what’s made this job such a fun experience over the past few months. And while I’m well aware that I can’t claim credit for all the good things that have been coming together lately, I’m glad that I was able to give some of the right queues at the right time.


Thursday, October 4th, 2007

Wiki meets Facebook.

First up, the Wiki Project:

theWikiProject is a place for you, your friends, and your groups to write Web pages together. Using the same software that powers Wikipedia, you can share pages with just a few folks, inside Facebook, or with the whole world at!

Another cool feature is a wiki-style Wall, since you can put your own page inside your Facebook profile, and any and all of your friends can edit it.

This is EXPERIMENTAL software by a couple of developers who wanted to use MediaWiki inside of Facebook. We CANNOT GUARANTEE YOUR PRIVACY nor the RELIABILITY OF OUR STORAGE. Yes, it’s on’s servers and we make hourly backups, but this is just a very small project at the moment…

… but if you pitch in and join theWikiProject, we think it could be a whole lot bigger!

Read how the makers of the Wiki Project explain “Why a wiki?

Secondly, Wetpaint launched the beta version of its Wiki Whiteboard app on Monday:

Wiki Whiteboard by Wetpaint makes it simple to work together with friends and groups inside Facebook. Adding content, images, videos, and dozens of other widgets is as easy as clicking and typing.

Who knows, there may already be more wiki apps on Facebook than just these two…

It’s ok to ask tough questions, everybody…

Thursday, August 2nd, 2007

So why is it that a bridge collapses in the middle of the day, right in the Heartland…?

You tell me.

The folks at E-Democracy.Org have set up a wiki to capture citizen reports of this ongoing event.

Just in case this has caught anyone by surprise, the topic of over-aged and unter-maintained bridges all across the US has been around for quite some time.

n2eu — NetSquared Europe shaping up?

Saturday, July 7th, 2007

Dan McQuillan, the web manager for Amnesty International, is working on the idea of launching NetSquared in Europe: UPDATE on Netsquared - the European Remix

About NetSquared:

Our mission is to spur responsible adoption of social web tools by social benefit organizations. There’s a whole new generation of online tools available — tools that make it easier than ever before to collaborate, share information and mobilize support. These tools include blogs, wikis, RSS feeds, podcasting, and more. Some people describe them as “Web 2.0″; we call them the social web, because their power comes from the relationships they enable.

They are the makers of the annual NetSquared Conference, which was great last year and which I was unfortunate to miss this year.
More information about the n2eu initiative can be found on their wiki.

Via NetSquared: Net2EU: Join the NetSquared Europe List Serv and Wiki

Checking in with four current examples of wiki-based dialogue and deliberation

Thursday, July 5th, 2007

I’m following a variety of projects in the area of online dialogue and deliberation. This past weekend, I took the time to look in a little more detail at four of the ones that follow a purely wiki-based approach to find out how they have been doing lately (screenshots on Flickr).

Please note that all four projects have slightly different objectives, covering such things as dialogue, deliberation, debate, discussion or argument mapping.

1. More Perfect

About More Perfect: “Imagine an entirely new approach to democracy where everyone is able to participate. Imagine a way to enable more direct public involvement and participation, creating a marketplace of ideas where the public can collaborate with each other on the matters that affect their daily lives. Fundamentally change the way policy makers and citizens approach the creation of laws today. That’s our vision.”

For the ten weeks between April 20 and June 29, 2007, a total of 43 edits occured according to the recent changes page. That’s an average of about 0.6 edits per day for this 71 day period.

2. Politicopia

I had mentioned Politicopia back in January. According to the wiki, Politicopia “gives people a solid handle on the Utah Legislature. Users create summaries of bills, pro and con arguments, comments, links, and more.”

There don’t seem to have occured any edits recently, though the wiki does not allow to examine this in more detail. As a proxy, I looked at number of revisions per page. The wiki currently lists a total of 116 pages. I count 1240 revisions, bringing the average to 10.7 revisions per page. The wiki has been live for roughly six months. Assuming a time period between December 25, 2006 and June 29, 2007 (184 days), the average is 6.7 revisions/edits per day.

To be fair, however, the wiki may have just been a first pilot to prepare for future projects. It was most active during the 45-day legislative session which ended in mid-February. Based on this shorter period (45 days), the average is about 27.6 revisions/edits per day.

3. Debatepedia

About Debatepedia: “Debatepedia is the free wiki encyclopedia of A-to-Z debates and pro and con arguments. It is the home and future of sound reasoning. Debatepedia is a project of the International Debate Education Association’s (IDEA) and Debatemedia, Inc. Debatepedia enables anyone (you included) to click “edit” and engage in a collective endeavor of documenting and structuring unique pro and con arguments on any topic, even topics that you initiate. Debatepedia is quickly becoming an indispensable resource for debaters, students, citizens, and even politicians to uncover salient arguments in important public debates and develop rational positions and perspectives. At its highest level, Debatepedia will help improve the quality of decision-making itself.”

Between March 23 and June 29, 2007, a total of 106 individual edits occured on the wiki. That is an average of about 1.1 edits per day during this 99 day period.

4. Campaigns Wikia

Back in January, I had already noticed a slow-down in activity at Campaigns Wikia. According to their mission statement, “it’s time for politics to become more intelligent, and for democracy to really involve the people. Broadcast media tells you what to think and doesn’t let you get involved. It’s time to focus on what you need, what you care about, and the messages you want to get out.” And: “This website, Campaigns Wikia, has the goal of bringing together people from diverse political perspectives who may not share much else, but who share the idea that they would rather see democratic politics be about engaging with the serious ideas of intelligent opponents, about activating and motivating ordinary people to get involved and really care about politics beyond the television soundbites.”

Between May 12 and June 29, 2007, a total of 447 individual edits occured. That’s an average of about 9.1 edits per day during this 49 day period.

I’m leaving the conclusions and evaluations for a later post, but the obvious question here is why neither of the four projects seems to be able to gain any significant traction.

List of collaborative translation tools

Wednesday, May 23rd, 2007

I’m quite fascinated by the opportunities or large-group collaboration.

I recently thought about how crowdsourcing could best be applied to the translation process, and came across the following projects or services (may not all be active anymore, but listed here nonetheless):

  • Babels — Babels is an international network of volunteer interpreters and translators whose main objective is to cover the interpreting needs of the Social Forums.
  • Cucumis — Free online translation service
    Cucumis is a community of translators who share their linguistic knowledge and help each other online.
  • DotSUB — Any film in any language.
  • nativetext — nativetext is a free web service that translates RSS feeds from blogs and podcasts into foreign languages. (site defunct, archived version available on
  • Speakeasy — Speakeasy is an integrated internet and telephone service that connects new immigrants with a network of multilingual volunteers who answer questions, give advice, and provide language interpretation over the phone. Speakeasy’s novel approach to community networking leverages the ubiquity of cell phones to create a model of “just in time” civic engagement, enabling volunteers to remain “on-call” to their community wherever they might be.
  • Traduwiki — Anybody is a translator
    Traduwiki’s mission is to use the power of ‘we’ to translate the most interesting documents. Explore the thousands of docs already uploaded, contribute two phrases at a time and let’s spread the best stuff.
  • Worldwide Lexicon Project — Translating The Web To And From Any Human Language
    The Worldwide Lexicon is an experimental project to make translating websites, blogs and real-time IM conversations easy and accurate, using a combination of human and machine translation. The project was created several years ago by Brian McConnell, a telecommunications entrepreneur and inventor.

Anything else out there that should be mentioned? Feel free to leave a comment.

Tonight! Tune in to Trackback radio show on Web Monday, Barcamp, others

Saturday, April 7th, 2007

If all goes well I’ll make it on tonight’s (Saturday) edition of Trackback. They plan to do a brief interview with me some time between 6pm and 8pm Berlin Time. We’ll be talking about Web Monday, Barcamp, pl0gbar, the upcoming re:publica conference (plus however many other unconferences, un-meetings or un-formats we can think of that have recently popped up in Germany).

Tune in, the Trackback blog should be open for comments. I might set up an IRC channel (if there isn’t one already). In addition, I’ll be available via Skype, Twitter etc. from about 5pm.

Citizendium launched today

Sunday, March 25th, 2007

Citizendium, which I mentioned earlier, launched in public beta today.

I think it’s a good thing Wikipedia got some competition (with regard to content as well as the content creation and editing process). Competition usually breeds innovation, and I see a lot of room for innovation at Wikipedia or similar wiki or citizen media projects.

Ideally, both projects will complement each other.