A New Wiki/Bliki Movement Afoot?

When I wrote Learning with (and from) Wikis a few weeks ago, I thought I was behind the times. I thought that most of the basic points about wikis had already been explored in various online discussion forums.

As it turns out, I may have unwittingly become part of a new movement to expand and enhance the use of wikis, or to expand them into blikis. (A bliki is a weblog with wiki support – which is a very cool idea and something I’m seriously considering exploring in my own projects.)

Well, it wouldn’t be the first time I’ve blundered into a revolution…

See It’s a Wiki World After All – Well Nearly, posted by Wayne Robinson in Cutting Through. There, Robinson cites my May 26 wiki article, as well as other recent writings by Seth Godin and Business Week.

Then Cutting Through followed up on June 16 with It’s Becoming a Bliki World.

On June 9, Krzysztof Kowalczyk pushed the bliki concept further in Of weblogs and wikis. He makes a very strong case, but he cautions that so far the developer community is lagging on creating user-friendly, easy-to-install bliki packages. Well, we can give that time.

Also, on June 8 Alan Levine explained his recent attempt to make wiki that’s easier on the eye: Turning the Tide on Ugly Wikis

Hey – if I’ve blundered into a wiki revolution of some kind, at least I’m in good company!

Looking back, there was a flurry of similar activity about a year ago:

  • Why I Don’t Like Wikis, by Elizabeth Lane Lawley (Apr. 26, 2003, in Many-to-Many). “…Let’s face it. [Wikis] are ugly. I’m not a shallow person. Really. (Well, maybe a little shallow. But that’s not the point.) I do, however, respond better to web pages that are well designed and pleasant to look at. And wiki pages aren’t.”

  • …To which Ross Mayfield responded in the same weblog on Apr. 30, 2003, Wikis are Beautiful. “Wikis emphasize both reading and writing. Sure they could be a little more readable, but that would come at a cost for writing. Costs to be carefully considered for a tool that enables a writable web.” (Which is a good point, I admit, but I STILL think wikis are ugly and not very user-friendly.

  • Then, on May 1, 2003, PlasticBag.org opened Pandora’s box with this call to arms, The Ugly Wiki?. There, Tom Coates writes, “Isn’t it obvious that it does not need to be this way? There’s no rulebook that says that Wikis have to look the way they do – no creationist spark of godhood that came down from on high and declared this particular appearance of editable websites the perfect one. This statement – that just because there’s a bit more of a barrier to architecting a ‘prettier’ Wiki means that they are inherently ugly – seems to me to be astonishingly strange. It’s like blaming evolution for someone’s misapplied make-up…” Definitely read the lively discussion in the comments to this posting.

  • Coates followed that salvo up on Aug. 21, 2003 with The Ugly Wiki, Part 2. There he describes his own effort to make a prettier wiki.

Honestly, I’m not quite sure whether there is indeed a new wiki “movement afoot,” but I’ll definitely keep an eye on it.

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  1. Bliki’s – Are blogs and wikis already outdated?
    Amy Gahran has an interesting article about bliki’s, a new “trend” combining blogs and wikis. It seems an interesting idea, but I’m not sure how feasible it would be. The ability to edit directly from the front-end would definitely be nice, and are…