What IS a WIKI, anyway?
The Origins and Basics
It only seems right to turn to the wiki-driven online encyclopedia Wikipedia for a definition of wiki:
“A wiki (pronounced WIK-ee) is a website that allows the easy creation and editing of any number of interlinked web pages via a web browser using a simplified markup language or a WYSIWYG ['What You See Is What You Get'] text editor. Wikis are typically powered by wiki software and are often used to create collaborative websites, to power community websites, for personal note taking, in corporate intranets, and in knowledge management systems.
Wikis may exist to serve a specific purpose, and in such cases, users use their editorial rights to remove material that is considered ‘off topic’. Such is the case of the collaborative encyclopedia Wikipedia. In contrast, open purpose wikis accept content without firm rules as to how the content should be organized.
Ward Cunningham, the developer of the first wiki software, WikiWikiWeb, originally described it as ‘the simplest online database that could possibly work’. ‘Wiki’. . . is a Hawaiian word for ”fast’ ‘Wiki’ has been backronymed by some to ‘What I Know Is”.”
I don’t know about you, but they had me at the neo-word “backronymed” – I guess we DID need a word for reverse engineered acronyms. If you are interested in the embedded definitions and narratives that accompany this definition, you can find the entire article at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wiki
Moving Beyond the Basics
Most of us in the SIGNetwork community will not be using wikis across multiple websites, but rather as a tool for collaboration. The explosion of free and low-cost wiki applications on the Web has encouraged the development of a host of wikis by educators at many different levels. The next post will explore some of those uses, as well as beginning a review of a few of the available wiki applications. We hope you visit us again soon, and post your own comments to make this a more valuable resource.