What is The Wiki For?
By blogsadmin on Nov 26, 2007
The introduction of the Oracle Wiki has been a interesting case study in the collision between the "old" Web (information publisher-driven) and the "new" one (information consumer-driven).
Most users "get it" and are already carpet-bombing the wiki with new pages and edits to existing ones. But there is a minority who don't understand what the wiki is "for" - which is an interesting indicator of their expectations. (Billy Cripe offers a good definition of Web 2.0; he characterizes it as partially a set of "expectations".)
These traditionalists expect a Web application to dictate the conditions of its use (this is what corporate Web sites are designed to do), whereas a wiki does no such thing. It does the opposite in fact; it moves this responsibility back to the user. (Obviously, the wiki is not a completely blank slate; there are Rules of Conduct that are designed to maximize its value to the community.)
One wiki contributor, girlgeek, asked me how she would know if her contributions have any value or whether other contributors want her to "stop" making them, which I found to be a charming concern. You go, girlgeek - your participation is where the value resides; the content is just icing on the cake.
This issue is one aspect of the larger existential issue of Web 2.0 - similar to business intelligence (many parallels here in my opinion), Web 2.0 is a business process/cultural issue, not a technology one. Sure, in both cases, technology is an enabler, but it's not the "point" - the slickest technology in the universe won't get you to nirvana in either case.