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Wiki in Academia

Going to give a talk soon on Social Software in Academia.
The following is a report on wiki-use in for our project..


  • ISI is halfway in between industry and pure research.
  • Wide range of users (language educators, artists, coders, researchers).
  • ~50-70 people. None are too cutting-edge social-software wise. Most all use the wiki

we’re also CMS (dotProject). We use it much in the way that industry would. Nothing too abnormal here. Bug/feature tracking, release calendars, etc. This isn’t too interesting or pertinent to discussion. Please contact me with questions

The TactLang Wiki: Uses

  • reference:
    • content sharing (here is my module/plan/API/small blurb of research focus I need to talk to people about)
  • content collaboration (everyone integrate their meeting notes)
  • content distribution (e.g. “here’s the paper I submitted to XXX conference”, “here is some demo video footage or screenshots people can use”)
  • development
    • collaboration: writing scripts together
    • centralized place to upload files (annotation)
  • personal
    • personal TODO lists


  • It does the job well, good for decentralized working and communication. I don’t have too much to say here because it’s a good tool.
  • It does what it needs to, and the interface is comfortable enough to use. Even those who have had no prior social software experience have had no problem understanding the interactional paradigm.
  • It’s really done well for for things like collaborative dev, like meeting notes, and pan-accessible file uploading (e.g. conference papers)


  • for things that need an external format, like conference papers, we’ve tried to write those in wiki, and the overhead of using markdown to format things is just too high. But, it’s good for what it does.
  • easy to have orphaned information. When new stuff comes up we add new pages, and it’s easy to forget about old pages if they fall out of thought and out of the recent changes list.
  • It’s easy for things to get lost if you forget their True Name.
  • It’s hard for somebody new to come onboard and tell by browsing what is a new idea and what is something we’re not doing any more.
  • It’s hard to encourage people to garden (should we even?).
  • Because it’s just one medium of expression, it’s hard to keep it synchronized with the other means of communication.
  • I suspect it’s easy for people to waste their time with. It’s quite easy to make organized, wonderfully structured pages meant as reference, but that no one else really uses but ourselves. I suppose this might help us organize our thoughts, but I wonder if it’s really worth it. TODO: explore online documentation.
  • Perhaps a lot of this would be better if either wikis themsevles were more condusive to strict structure, or if we had a “best practices”/design/writing patters prep for all users.