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Wiki Discussions?

One of the new possibilities we’ve been exploring at the Interactivity Foundation is the use of wikis for the discussion and development of material. We’ve set up a general wiki site, the Interactivity Foundation Wiki as a home base for these wikis (a list of the individual wikis appears on the left margin). The wiki format is useful for enabling collaborative development of a topic. It’s also useful for enabling interactive presentation of ideas, since it allows for users (or readers) to edit and revise existing material or even create new material. At the Interactivity Foundation Wiki site, we’ll have a number of different uses for wikis. Here are some that we are playing around with.

  • Project Wikis

These are wikis dedicated to a particular IF Discussion Project about an area of emerging social and political concern. During the course of a project the project facilitator might set up a “private” wiki for each discussion panel for the sharing of that panel’s developmental thinking. Prior to the joint panel discussions, only the members of a given panel would be able to view and edit the project material. Once the project panels are ready to share their ideas as a joint panel, the wiki can be made publicly viewable–but with writing or posting privileges restricted to the project panelists. Currently the Towns and Cities Wiki (for the joint panel sessions of “Shaping our Towns and Cities” project) is set up this way. Once the project panelists are ready to turn over their material for public discussion, then the wiki can be set up as a fully “public” wiki where anyone online could view, edit, and add to the material. The Future of the Family Wiki is an example of such a public wiki. This wiki is open for the contributions of anyone who is interested in building upon the ideas that emerged from the project discussions. We ask only that contributors engage with this material in the same generosity of spirit that guided the creation of this material from the beginning. This means that people are invited to make revisions that help to clarify for expand upon the ideas present here. Anyone can add new policy ideas to the wiki as well. But, we ask that people not delete or undermine ideas with which they disagree. Our purpose is to expand the range of policy ideas people might think about–regardless of whether any of us approves of these ideas.

  • Guide Wikis

These are wikis dedicated to offering guidance to anyone who might want to engage in some aspect of what the Interactivity Foundation does in any of its three focal areas (IF’s project discussions, the public discussions that are based on those project discussions, and the use of IF’s discussion approach in educational settings). Guide wikis offer the opportunity for users or practitioners to share the wisdom gained from their particular experiences by editing, revising, or generating new material to help others. The Student Guide Wiki, for example, focuses on offering guidance from a student perspective on our student-centered discussion process. It started with entries from Jack Byrd at IF, but is being edited and augmented by students who have worked through these lessons first-hand. We will likely develop a similar wiki from a faculty perspective as well. We are also planning to add an Academic Success Wiki, to share guidance about how to be a successful student more generally (in a way not limited to using IF’s collaborative discussion model). Such wikis can be a powerful tool to enable people to share their experiential know-how with others.

  • Internal Development Wikis

As we continually expand and develop our own thinking as an organization about what we do and how we do it, we’ll undoubtedly develop any number of wikis on these various topics. These are likely going to be primarily of internal relevance to IF in the near term. But they may be of interest to those who are interested in exploring more of the thinking behind the Interactivity Foundation. Some of these wikis will show up as publicly viewable.

We hope these wikis will be a helpful way for you to interact with the ideas that shape the work we do and that emerge from the work we do.

–Jeff Prudhomme