Public Lab Research note


Can documenting our work be fun?

by liz | July 24, 2014 17:00 | 1,502 views | 6 comments | #10956 | 1,502 views | 6 comments | #10956 24 Jul 17:00

Read more: unstable.publiclab.org/n/10956


My question is "can wiki gardening be social or fun in any way?"

background

Having experimented with wiki gardening as part of a group of people working together on a conference call (http://publiclab.org/wiki/common-water-contaminants), I have been wondering about how to host an event dedicated to collaborative documentation.
For example, this is a really nice looking page by Jeff: http://publiclab.org/wiki/oil-testing-kit, that was created as a solo activity. Is this the only way good documentation can effectively happen, or can groups work on pages together, either at the same time or serially?

some good ideas

  • using the talk page to collaboratively edit with a group, and then one person pasting that into the wiki page. Etherpad also has a chat feature, but no image layout capability.
  • sending a google doc out in markdown for future posting as a wiki page. Google Doc have the additional benefit of in-line commenting. In this way, the margins of the document become informal spaces for discussion.
  • an idea for two-part facilitation from Mathew, a single wiki writer sharing a screen in videoconference, while other people collaboratively work in the pad-- dedicated wiki writer and pad facilitator. (similar to our builidng code writing process-- mathew)

What do you think? Add your comments below!


6 Comments

I wonder if there are ways besides simultaneous editing to achieve healthy wiki growth -- that is, unlike Google Docs, wikis were not designed (on our site or in general) for simultaneous collaboration. Not that there aren't advantages to simultaneous editing -- such as the good shared energy of doing something with a group of other people -- but are there also ways we can get better at encouraging periodic iterative improvement, which is what wiki technology was developed for?

Perhaps we could also think about:

  • the "edit here" feature seen on the common water contaminants page
  • "resolvable" comments like in Google Docs that allow people to comment and critique inline in the margins

Screen_Shot_2014-07-24_at_1.12.54_PM.png

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Can you get free kits by wiki gardening?

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I'm not sure about reward-based incentives, here -- it'd be wonderful if people improved the wiki as an expression of their growing expertise and desire to help others. I think those desires are there -- we just need to create openings for participation.

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writers are a breed apart, I dunno.

what makes people post so much to facebook?

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People post to facebook to get feedback. Facebook posts are not generally intended to help others. Editing a Public Lab wiki does not typically lead to feedback for the editor so there is little social reward. Is there a way to acknowledge good wiki editors? The reward does not have to be tangible.

Writing is a solo activity for me. I crave feedback when I am done, but writing by committee is beyond my ability.

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This comment thread has veered away from the original idea that I had and discussed with Mathew of collaborative social events that produce documentation, which is fine. So let's consider how to support solo writing and "encourage periodic iterative improvement" as @warren says. Should we inaugurate something like "Edit Fridays" as a regular calendar event that encourages individuals to push their progress into the knowledge base?

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