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March 29, 2007


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Owen Kelly

I don't disagree with his analysis. I have also used wikis in preference to WebCT. HOwever there is a downside that Stewart Meder doesn't discuss, which has caused me to switch from wikis to hand-tweaked WordPress sites.

The downside is that wikis grew up in some completely standards-free town somewhere and that means that the data you put into a wiki has zero portability. (This was true of the wikis I used at least.) Wordpress exports valid xhtml so stuff can leave site a and be ported to site b.

And talking about porting. Wordpress makes linking across the web much simpler than most wikis, through RSS, trackbacks and so on. I have written about this at length because I think that this difference is crucial.

Wikis are fantastically easy to use if you want to store stuff somewhere and then make lots and lots of internal links. Wordpress becomes a better option when you realise that you want to make lots and lots of external links.

Bryan Alexander

Owen, are you using WordPress primarily for blog features?

Not sure I follow about zero portability - you can scrape wiki content off as text, at the least. Markup differences remain a pain, I grant you that, which means hyperlinking doesn't always work.

Owen Kelly

Nope, my site is wordpress-based, and only a small portion of it is bloggish (meaning short, time-related pieces that sit around in reverse chronological order). In fact the whole site used to be made in WikkaWiki, and I ported it all across to WordPress (which now sees itself as a content management system as much as a blogging tool) at the start of the year - remaking all the internal links as I went :)

The reasons for this were related to the goals of my memi project; the usefulness of the built-in features; and the possibility of distributed publishing - which is now coming to fruition thanks to the good people at Zoho.

The project, by the way, is an attempt to realise on the web most of the functionality of Vannevar Bush's hypothetical memex...

Stewart Mader

Bryan, you make a good point about text. After all, that's a perfect example of what makes the wiki so good - there's nothing proprietary about text! Linking is bit more of an issue depending on how you use content. If you take it out of the wiki, then yes, you may have to reformat, but who wants to take content out of the wiki? :)
Atlassian, the company I work for, has developed a universal wiki converter that helps move content from other wikis into Confluence. Here's more info about it: http://blogs.atlassian.com/developer/2006/10/uwc_update.html

Bryan Alexander

Owen, that sounds terrific. Questions: would you mind if I showed this to academics during presentations and workshops? And is owenkelly.net the best starting point?

Stewart, thanks for your fellowship in textual celebration. :) Might I blog and show people that Altass. page?

Owen Kelly

Hi again,

Two comments. I agree with both you and Stewart: you can indeed scrape (usually link-free) text off wikis, but the very existence of the universal wiki convertor kind of demonstrates the truth of my original point, I think :)

Yes, sure. Please do talk to people about the idea of distributed publishing and point them at my site. A good starting point might be here: http://www.owenkelly.net/2007/03/13/zoho-for-distributed-publication/

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