Chapter 8. The Wisdom of the Wiki

What's in It for You?

The word wiki comes from the Hawaiian word for "fast" or "quick," and it alludes to the pace at which wiki content can be created. While some say wiki is an acronym for "What I Know Is," this came after the original naming and is rarely used within the wiki community. Wikis are web sites that allow people to collect and edit their intelligence in one place at any time. These web sites truly represent the social media foundation of user-generated content and the wisdom of the crowds.

A wiki is a browser-based web platform that lets volunteers contribute information based on their expertise and knowledge, and permits them to edit content within articles on specific subjects. Together, this material creates an encyclopedia-type knowledge base that is founded on the integrity of the contributor's additions. Wikis can either be open to the public or restricted to members or employees. Many companies today, such as Pixar, are utilizing the wiki to create knowledge management systems for retaining corporate information for collaboration and for training. By incorporating a company wiki, many firms can gather the collective knowledge of their employees on subjects such as policies and procedures, manufacturing and sales, company history, products—and even how to fix the fax machine's paper jams.

As wiki inventor and computer programmer Ward Cunningham puts it, "The wiki concept has become a study in what's now called 'social software.' ...

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