A new addiction is sweeping across the world – Wikipediholism. Just beware the compulsion to make 70,000 updates about the Cheeky Girls
Wikipedia is rapidly finding its way on to everybody’s internet toolbar, including Vaughan Burnand’s below. With information on just about any subject you care to mention, it’s invaluable. There’s a good biography of Building’s founder Joseph Aloysius Hansom, for example, and I was impressed to find that an article on microgeneration included details from last month’s pre-Budget report.
It’s amazing how quickly articles are updated. I looked up Lembit Öpik’s entry the morning after the story broke about his relationship with Gabriela Irimia of the Cheeky Girls and, sure enough, all the juicy details had been added to his biography.
The online encyclopedia is a collaborative website, where entries can be edited by anybody with a web connection. The same principle applies to “wikis”. These are simple to set up and allow small groups to communicate with each other in a more sophisticated way than email. Internet researcher Gartner Group predicts that wikis will become mainstream collaboration tools in at least 50% of firms by 2009 and that they could cut emails on related projects by 75%.
Anybody can contribute or correct a wiki so project schedules can be updated by anybody on a team. Pictures and multimedia elements can also be added without going over your personal email limit.
There’s a good article about them in Wikipedia – where else – at wikipedia.org/wiki/wiki. If you want to set up your own, try pbwiki.com. Beware of “Wikipediholism” though. Some people are addicted to editing collaborative websites and spend countless hours doing so. There are over 2,400 Wikipedians who have edited more than 4,000 pages each. Last month New Scientist unearthed Derek Bryan Derksen, a Canadian who has added over 70,000 edits to Wikipedia. There may not be the same compulsion to edit entries on say, a sanitaryware wiki, but you have been warned.
Alex Smith is Building’s web editor