When I was first exposed to wikis I couldn’t see an application. And then along came wikipedia and it seems a wonderful tool. It’s increasingly difficult (but not impossible) to find a gap in wikipedia’s coverage. One of my professors was saying earlier this year about how wikipedia was not a viable or valid reference. Given the mistakes in Encyclopaedia Britannica, I believe wikipedia has a lot going for it. Best will in the world, there’s a lot of people out there (who knew?) with extensive (encyclopedic?) knowledge of their particular microcosm.
The second cool application I’ve been able to participate in is building swicki – search wikis. I’ve been creating and contributing to swicki for a while now. I find the idea very appealing – a focussed search engine. I start with a spectrum of what I think are key search terms, and then people are able to search, and any terms that get used frequently are added to the search engine. Very clever work. Check out some of the swickis I’ve created – see My Swickis links in the sidebar. I was discussing with our friend, Marg, about the ‘where to from here’ with search engines – and I believe the rss/aggregation approach might be the way of the future – focussed search engines rather than the big general that is google. It’s not that google isn’t potent – of course it it. But the sifting through the 90 million mis-hits for the two or three that really do the job is a burden best reserved for machines.