Wiki-time

In previous posts, I talked about working on the new MANOS team wiki site.  I thought I’d devote a little more time to singing the praises of the wiki in this installment, since it has turned out to be such a useful and user-friendly system.

Unfortunately, the wiki I’ve been working on includes all of the past documents, data, papers, presentations, etc. that are part of the MANOS project, all of which contain private research information, so our wiki is not open to the public.  The wiki is part of the College of William and Mary Wikis system at www.wmwikis.net.  The site not only provides a free webspace, it also has tutorials, tips, and tech support for the non-computery types (like myself), so creating a page, adding information, and sharing it with others is all very straightforward.

My favorite part is how easy it is to connect things on the wiki.  For example, on the MANOS wiki, we have water research from several years, and information about other organizations who have been involved with water projects in the region in the past.  Links to this information can be found on one page about water, and on other pages from the year the information was collected, or by searching specific terms, so you don’t have to bounce all around searching for specific documents, which is especially hard if you don’t know exactly what has been done in the past or what you should be looking for.

For MANOS, this connectivity becomes critical given the age of the project, since students from the first years of the project have graduated, so those coming in need to know what has been done in the past, and perhaps more importantly, what reasoning motivated any decisions.  Having the wiki site where a research narrative can connect to any and all data should help new members catch up and stay involved, to avoid repeating any past mistakes or unintentionally undermining any past decisions.

And of course, another perk is how easy the wiki lets you add in media.  Finding the perfect Cuje mountain picture for the homepage and making the most eye-catching tag cloud design for the research page fueled my quality procrastination time.  But seriously, being able to collect and provide access to a host of videos and pictures furthers the goal of bringing new members into the loop as easily as possible.  Of course, the true test of the wikis usefulness comes this Fall semester, when most of the team will actually try it out, but I have high hopes for it’s passing with flying colors.