A few years ago a Carroll trustee remarked to me that he wondered how much Internet detritus has accumulated (unused email accounts, abandoned web pages, forgotten electronic projects). Jim's musing about this lost virtual space recently returned to me while I was attending a Carroll Technology Fellows' meeting. We were being introduced to wikispaces and it dawned on me that I not only had an account there, but I also had abandoned accounts on four other wiki hosts which I had explored intermittently since 2007: pbwiki, wetpaint,
twiki, and jotspot. That embarrassing realization in turn led me to revisit Woods and Thoeny's (2007) Wiki's for Dummies, revisit all my prior accounts, and think about whether an "old" (e.g. 2007) largely abandoned teaching technology tool deserved any place in my technology teaching tool kit today.
Ward Cunningham invented the wiki (essentially a collection of web pages) as the simplest possible online data base that anyone could edit. Simple it is. Myriad wiki tools exist. Here is ONE way to choose among them.
I presently am using wikispaces because it is free to educators and is easy to use. Presently, I have (re)found it valuable as a project manager of a
colloborative research project I am working on with six undergraduates where we have a
need for an easily accessible, editable shared repository on the web. Abundant well-written
tutorials exist for guiding the novice user.
Woods and Thoeny liken wikis to electronic, linkable index cards and enjoin the reader to embrace the attitude of "Wabi-sabi"—the beauty of unfinished content—as one enters the world of wiki collaboration. I personally find that attitude motivating in the same sense as the Zeigarnik effect or the lines of Robert Frost "…miles to go before I sleep." Though I have not seen wikis "conquer" problems as some wiki evangelists predicted, I presently benefit from the tool facilitating collaboration. Perhaps the logo on this t-shirt expresses it best: