Books : reviews

Stewart Mader.
Wiley. 2008

rating : 3.5 : worth reading
review : 12 January 2009

We've been using a wiki on a collaborative research project quite successfully for the past couple of years, so when I saw this book, I thought it would be useful to find out how we could make even better use of it.

Enterprise wikis are nothing to do with encyclopedias, but all about collaborative working; it's the process, not the content, that is the core of the wiki-approach. Mader is a wiki-evangelist, educating people with the new wiki-way to share information resources and do collaborative work. His point is that, rather than imposing some heavy, structured Content Management System on people, that is too inflexible and ponderous, instead let the structure evolve and emerge naturally, as people do their work. He is also careful to say that a wiki isn't the answer to everything: you will still need other tools. But they can be used for what they are best at.

Some of the figures are screenshots from the accompanying website, These are rather poorly printed and difficult to read: I found myself wondering if this was a ploy to get people to go to the website! It's also slightly turgid in places, and has some typos. But by that stage, I was fully into his wiki-ethos, so just wanted to dive in and fix them! And I'm convinced by his stories. So, we're going to start using our project wiki in a new way -- as well as using it as a repository, we'll start collaboratively writing a large technical report with it. Let's see how that works.