My favorite hosted wiki: MindTouch Wik.is

MindTouch Wik.is Back in May I started looking for a hosted wiki for the EdmontonTweetup. I wanted a wiki so that others could contribute and help to organize our meetups. I also wanted a hosted wiki, because I didn’t want to mess around with running yet another system with yet another database. My only other requirements were that I wanted it to be free or very low cost, and relatively simple and clean (I would have been fine with some advertising).

I tried a bunch, including Wetpaint, Wikidot, PBWiki, StikiPad, Wikispaces, and finally Wik.is. I’ve had experience with both PBWiki and Wikispaces and like them both, but it was the last one that turned out to be my favorite. We’ve been using Wik.is by MindTouch to power the EdmontonTweetup wiki ever since! And today, I setup another one for Edmonton Code Camp.

Wik.is is a hosted version of Deki, the enterprise wiki solution that MindTouch sells to businesses. There are two account levels – Basic which is free, and Pro which costs $99 USD/year. The Basic level includes:

  • 100 MB of storage.
  • WYSIWYG editing.
  • The ability to have a public or private wiki.
  • Themes and the ability to edit CSS to further customize the look of the wiki.
  • Integration with popular sites like YouTube and Flickr.
  • RSS feeds, templates, redirects, and other common wiki features.

The Pro level gives you 10 GB of storage, the ability to customize the HTML, and the ability to use your own domain name.

I love that Wik.is is fast and contains no advertising! It’s simple to get started – all you need to do is choose a domain name prefix, such as “edmontoncodecamp” in http://edmontoncodecamp.wik.is. After you’re logged in you can make your wiki public, upload your own logo, and choose from one of the 20 or so pre-installed themes (or you can customize your own). You can enable anonymous editing, or require users to create an account before they can edit pages.

When I first started with Wik.is, my only complaint was that the WYSIWYG editing didn’t work in Opera or really anything other than IE and Firefox. That was fixed quite a while ago though, so I was complaint-free until today. After setting up the second wiki, I realized that there’s no such thing as a “Wik.is account”, which means I have two “mastermaq” accounts – one for the tweetup wiki and one for the code camp wiki. It would be much better if I could use just one account to login to both.

That’s a fairly minor issue though! In general I’m really happy with Wik.is, and I highly recommend it if you’re looking for a hosted wiki solution. I’m also a fan of MindTouch! They have an active blog, and a few of them are quite active on Twitter, such as the founder, Aaron Roe Fulkerson. Keep it up!

Finally, here are a few things you probably didn’t know about Deki (the software that powers Wik.is):

  • It started in July 2006 as a fork of MediaWiki (the software that powers Wikipedia)
  • The frontend is built using PHP, while the API is written in C# for Mono and the .NET Framework
  • It powers the Mozilla Developer Wiki

Don Tapscott Talks Wikinomics at the U of A

Post ImageEarly this morning I attended a lecture sponsored by the U of A’s School of Business featuring Don Tapscott, author of the new book Wikinomics. It’s a good thing I didn’t buy the book a couple weeks ago like I was going to, because everyone got a complimentary copy at the event (and I got him to sign mine).

I had no idea, but apparently the event was something of a homecoming for Don! He got his M.Ed. in Research Methodology from the University of Alberta, as well as one of his two honorary Doctor of Laws. He joked that he was happy to enjoy the Alberta spring weather with us! From a distance, Don looks a little something like Red from That 70’s Show, but I can assure you, he’s a much more engaging speaker than Mr. Forman.

He started by congratulating us for being named Time’s person of the year, and said that in his opinion, it is the corporation (as opposed to an individual) that is undergoing the biggest change. Much of his talk focused around what he called the “four drivers” of mass collaboration:

  1. Web 2.0
  2. The Net Generation
  3. The Social Revolution
  4. The Economic Revolution

The one that caught my attention the most was the second one – no surprise I suppose, as I am a member of the net generation (he said anyone under 29). The comments he made really resonated with me (such as that we view email as a more formal way to communicate). He is currently working on a research project to demonstrate that members of this generation are wired differently…we think differently than our parents. Perhaps the most profound aspect of the net generation is that we view work, entertainment, and everything else as the same thing. No longer is there a clear distinction between work and fun…they need to become (and are becoming) one.

Don also explained that the net generation is incredible at detecting BS, and that we actually do care about things. He said a common remark from older people is that members of the net generation don’t care about the news, all they watch is The Daily Show. Don’s reply was brilliant: “The Daily Show isn’t funny unless you know the news!” Truer words have never been spoken.

The talk finished with a brief question period and a few final thoughts from Don. He said an important takeaway is that leadership can come from anywhere. It doesn’t have to come from the top, which I thought was a good point.

I look forward to reading the book now!

School Libraries in Canada Weblog

Post ImageAs some of you know, I have been the Technical Editor of SLIC for a couple years now. SLIC, or School Libraries in Canada, is the Canadian Association for School Libraries‘ journal for teachers and teacher-librarians and has been an online journal since I joined. I haven’t said much about it on my blog, but I thought our most recent issue was rather interesting!

The latest issue is titled Teacher/Teacher-Librarian Collaboration, and in addition to a collection of articles written by teachers, teacher-librarians, and other contributors, we have for the first time published a weblog! Aside from the fact that we probably won’t be making any new posts, it is a real blog, complete with web feeds, comments, and all of that other good blog stuff. Definitely a good way to talk about collaboration! Here’s the description for the new issue:

This issue of School Libraries in Canada examines the importance of that most elusive of ideals, the equal partnership of classroom teachers and teacher-librarians. The articles present the research findings on the effectiveness of collaborative teaching practice, discuss strategies, offer suggestions, and tell tales of passion and sorrow, frustration and success. At the heart of it all is a way of teaching that requires and models mutual respect, trust, cooperation and the power of shared vision. From the dry data to the practical experience, our writers share the importance of our work to the success of our colleagues, our students and ultimately our schools. This issue also includes SLIC’s first weblog – a venue for the community of teacher-librarians to discuss the challenges and rewards of collaborative teaching practice. We hope you will take advantage of this opportunity to explore the issues surrounding collaborative teaching practice with teacher-librarians across Canada and around the world.

This is just another example of blogging becoming more and more commonplace. Indeed I think educational institutions have been quick to warm up to blogging as it’s a really versatile medium – it’s perfect for class projects, teacher updates, school news, or even teacher and teacher-librarian collaboration!

Read: SLIC Online