At the risk of looking like someone who bounces from thing to thing I thought I’d share just a few thoughts on what a wiki service might be all about at a University … I think one of the fundamental issues around wiki spaces is that people want to feel ownership. In other words, they want to “own” their space. In most higher education models, we (the IT people) bring a wiki online and say to people, “it is there, go ahead and add pages.” That is met with less enthusiasm as one would expect at first blush. I think the overall ownership piece plays a part, don’t you?
If you think about the model, it is a lot like simply installing a version of WordPress and telling people to start blogging. Sure they can blog, but their content is mixed in with the rest of the people blogging on that one space. In my opinion, the answer is to create a service that allows people a very easy way to create a wiki space that is their own.
With the Blogs at Penn State project we are letting people start with a centrally hosted blog publishing platform that they visit … but when it is time to publish their content shows up in their personal webspace. That gives people a little more ownership in the whole process. If you look at what a service like PB WIki provides you can see the right model. I think others agree given I just read that PBWiki Raised $2m to grow its service.
So I am right back to square one with the whole build/buy/partner question that seems to be around every turn these days. Here’s a question for those of who have implemented a wiki service at your Universities … do you have one big wiki that people just add to, or do you provide a true wiki service where any user can create a separate instance that is their own?