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Wiki Wiki whaat?

If you haven’t heard of Wikipedia by now then crawl out from under your Web 1.0 rock and turn your intertubes to www.wikipedia.org. This is the most successful implementation of
what is known as a ‘Wiki’, which is effectively a resource that is built on collaboration and contribution from a large, or small, group of people. The concept is similar to a brainstorming session based on facts, everyone contributes their expertise on a single topic, the submissions are either posted straight away or moderated for quality, and the knowledge is saved into the Wiki for later.

In Wikipedia’s case it has moderators to ensure quality over quantity, and also accuracy of the data within the Wiki. If you’re a regular user of Wikipedia you will be familiar with the concept of ‘getting distracted’ while researching things due to the sheer volume of information on there.

The great thing about Wiki’s in a business scenario is their ability to be used for sharing operational information. The Wiki can be turned into a living, breathing knowledge base of both present issues and past fixes, common issues that present themselves, what to watch out for, projects that people are working on and the progress / hickups / needs they currently have. Needs, advice or other content can then be contributed by either people internal to the organisation (internal wiki) or externally if it is published to the internet.

The downside to a Wiki is that if content isn’t moderated or backed up there is always the possibility of incorrect, incomplete or down right wrong information. This is either done accidently, with the best intent or simply people trolling. For an obvious example of Wikipedia Trolling click here, or for the uninitiated, here and here.

Who Wiki’s?

So what about people who don’t use it to make money? Wikipedia is a commercial turned non-profit organisation and has proved the platform can be successful, so to demonstrate they didn’t just ‘get   lucky’, I present Rt. 1 Day Centre in Columba, Maryland who actively use a Wiki to enhance the productivity of their non-profit organisation that helps the homeless.

The centre uses an external wiki that is accessible once you have created a free account on their website, and uses it to coordinate food deliveries, stocks and needed supplies, as well as when showers are available, laundries for people to clean the clothes, social services and many other facilities. They are partnered with over 40 churches in the area which ensures a good volunteer base of willing participants.

Volunteers simply logon / register, then can look at or contribute to the wiki instantly which info such as donations they are going to make, services they can provide or even contribute strategies such as the way the centre can engage the community or more effectivly deliver services.

This collaboration ensures a community, not just a group of volunteers is brought together, all sharing a common goal by collaborating with each other on common ground. This equal contribution that Wiki’s enable ensures people get an opportunity to provide their input on situations or topics, thus making them feel validated and a valued part of the community they are helping to contribute to.

How to Wiki with Enterprise 2.0

 

In order to successfully implement a Wiki in your Enterprise, there are a number of things to consider such as what your target audience is, how will people access your Wiki, is it only for internal staff or also external members, who can edit or contribute, what content will be on there, how easy will it be to edit? There are just some of the many questions that need answering before you delve into creating a Wiki.

The strategy I would take first is to consult with key staff and areas of the business to find their business needs, and translate those into deliverables that they Wiki would satisfy. This would culminate in form of an internal Wiki for staff and have basic content developed and published to ensure when people started using it there was a base to build on.

Stakeholder support is very important in any new venture so ensuring they key stakeholders and managers actively participated in editing, publishing and engaging the community would be a key driver to the Wiki’s success. Different sections would be created inside the Wiki such as a section for news and current affairs, a knowledge base section such as an FAQ or Technical Support etc to ensure information was organised and categorised for ease of use.

The final step would be to assign permission levels to each section, which could include having moderators review the content before publishing it to the page. This is especially valuable for things such as the FAQ sections, which are accessed often and correct information is paramount to ensuring the usefulness of the resource.

If everything goes well from here there could also be opportunity to open up an extranet wiki which could leverage off the information already inside the internal wiki pages.

Wikileaks

No wiki story is complete without mentioning the most notoriuos of Wiki’ers, Julian Assange, so if you’ve got an hour to spare this is well worth a look, if you don’t however then the summary is a group of activists use a Wiki platform to leak highly confidential documents submitted to them from anonymous sources.

Hey all,

So by now we’re all familiar with the concept of social media in general such as Facebook, LinkedIn etc, as well as Blogging both internal to the organisation and external, such as this WordPress blog.

Micro blogging takes a different approach to the usual format, restricting posts to a bare minimum of characters per post. Twitter for example limits posts to 160 characters, and these micro blog posts are referred to as “Tweets”.

However much like better cars don’t make better drivers, the micro blogging format doesn’t mean junk will never be posted, or a useless Tweet sent every second, it does however help to ensure the content is short, sharp and to the point. People can also ‘follow’ Twitter accounts to ensure that they receive information instantly. To ensure content is targeted, Twitter uses a system called ‘hash-tagging’ which works by placing a hash symbol (#) in front of a word e.g. #micro-blogging.

In an enterprise context this is very useful as it enables content to not only be targeted through the use of hash tags, but the business can also see what topics are ‘trending’ by looking at what hash tags appear the most. These trending topics can be used to gain a business advantage by utilising trending hash tags that are relevant to their business, thus generating more traffic by association. Trendsmap is a great tool that can be used to sort out what is trending geographically speaking, in order to ensure your tweets are hitting the right areas.

Personally, for any blog post I publish I will also send a Tweet sent out to all my followers, along with accompanying hash tag to ensure anyone else either in my class, or interesting in the content I am posting will be able to find my post. This is very useful in a business situation where you can inform people of specials, promotions, initiatives, latest news and events as well as get to interact with your target market and learn what they like, dislike, follow, use, think and pretty much anything else that they are willing to share via social media.

 

Iran and Social Media

I’ve previously focused on government and social media, so I thought I’d explore how a people as a whole, rather than an organisation, can be used to demonstrate the power of micro blogging.

During the 2011-2012 Iranian protests, the government issued a media blackout to ensure no news of the unrest would be seen, or heard of throughout the country. Enter Twitter, Facebook and other social media applications which suddenly turned groups of both organised and disorganised protestors into a single hive mind that shared information instantly enabling quick decisions on what the best course of action was at that immediate moment.

By sharing what the government forces were doing, where other protestors were, what places to march on, what to expect around the corner etc. they were better prepared and embodied they saying ‘knowledge is power’
Recently there were fresh demonstrations around the Iranian election, and in a move to pre-empt any unrest the government blocked what it considered ‘damaging’ western based websites.
This ensured some 30 million Iranians were unable to access Facebook, Twitter, Gmail and a host of other sites instrumental to a coordinated protest.

 

So what’s it got to do with business?

If a business is able to build an online presence through micro blogging, it will enable them to engage with people on a very personal, very rapid level which will ensure targeted marketing and successful business engagement.

Internally, micro blogging could be used to ensure any issues, ideas, projects or current topics are available to the entire organisation instantly.
I will leave you all with a snippet of Fox11 news about Twitter and Iran:

Found this very interesting, apparently open WiFi networks are designed to be ‘public’ in nature.

I’m not sure I’d be giving away my personal banking details over a public WiFi network anytime soon, however for those who don’t know better this could be a goldmine for information harvesting.

http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2012/09/sniffing-open-wifi-networks-is-not-wiretapping-judge-says/