Shared Docs: Gateway Drug to Wikis?

Chris Carfi, via Flickr (CC license)
Wiki maven Liz Henry of SocialText.

At the unconference segment of BlogHer 2007 in Chicago, I sat in on a small-group discussion about wikis (sites that can be collaboratively edited either by a defined group, or by anyone at all).

The discussion was led by one of my favorite wiki mavens, Liz Henry of Socialtext. I was glad that this group included some total wiki newbies (even wikiphobes) as well as wiki fans. That diversity of view was useful because, I’ve found, the concept of a wiki is rather alien and even suspicious to many people. It’s hard to give up the idea of one person having control over a document.

One thing that emerged from this discussion is that most of the wiki newbies or wikiphobes did know, and had used, shared documents via services such as Google Docs or Zoho. That concept was less alien to them than a wiki because it utilized familiar document types (word processing, spreadsheet, etc.) and because it solved a common problem — the frustration of a team working on a document passed around by e-mail.

That got us thinking: If you’re trying to introduce a team or community to wikis to aid some sort of collaboration, and if you’re meeting resistance or low adoption rates for the wiki, try working first with a shared document. Once they get used to the idea of collaborating on a document (any document, really) via the Web, wikis start to look more appealing and make more sense.

What do you think of this approach? Have you tried it? Did it work or not? Please comment below.

(NOTE: I originally published this item on Poynter’s E-Media Tidbits.)

One thought on “Shared Docs: Gateway Drug to Wikis?

  1. Pingback: Flow vs. Structure: Escaping From the Document & Directory Jungle | Zoli’s Blog

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