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Virtual teams: Wikis and other collaboration tools

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Title: Virtual teams: Wikis and other collaboration tools


1
Virtual teams Wikis and othercollaboration
tools
  • Valentin Todorov
  • UNIDO
  • v.todorov_at_unido.org
  • (in collaboration with Diman Todorov, Cardiff
    University, UK)

MSIS 2009 (Oslo, 18-20 May 2009)
2
Outline
  • Introduction what is Wiki Web 2.0 technical
    aspects
  • Comparison with similar technologies
  • Purpose, strengths and limits of wikis
  • Example scenarios
  • Wiki engines
  • Information retrieval in wikis
  • Summary and conclusions

3
What is a Wiki
  • The simplest online database that could possibly
    work.
  • --Ward Cunningham
  • A wiki is a collection of Web pages designed to
    enable anyone with access to contribute or modify
    content, using a simplified mark-up language.
  • --Wikipedia

4
What is a Wiki
  • A piece of server software that allows users to
    freely create and edit Web page content
  • Any Web browser can be used.
  • Wiki supports hyperlinks
  • Has a simple text syntax for creating new pages
    and cross-links between internal pages on the
    fly.
  • Wiki is considered a Web 2.0 technology

5
What is Web 2.0
  • Web 2.0 is a term often applied to a perceived
    ongoing transition of the World Wide Web from a
    collection of websites to a full-fledged
    computing platform serving web applications to
    end users. Ultimately Web 2.0 services are
    expected to replace desktop computing
    applications for many purposes.
  • --Wikipedia
  • Web 1.0 was all about connecting people. It was
    an interactive space, and I think Web 2.0 is of
    course a piece of jargon, nobody even knows what
    it means. If Web 2.0 for you is blogs and wikis,
    then that is people to people. But that was what
    the Web was supposed to be all along.
  • -- Tim Berners-Lee

6
What is Web 2.0
  • Prominent examples for Web 2.0 applications
  • flickr
  • facebook
  • del.ico.us.
  • A commonly accepted set of characteristics of Web
    2.0
  • participatory
  • decentralized
  • linked
  • emergent

7
Are you Web 2.0 compliant?
8
Are you Web 2.0 compliant?
  • http//web2.0validator.com/

9
Technically speaking
  • Special mark-up
  • language
  • Simple, but poses a significant entry barrier
  • WYSIWYG content entry wiki toolbar

10
Technically speaking(2)
  • Highly dynamic content how to ensure quality of
    this content?
  • A complete revision history
  • Subscribe for notifications
  • Major and minor changes
  • Subscribe to an RSS feed

11
Technically speaking(3)
  • Revision history example

12
Technically speaking(4)
  • There are the following two categories of Wikis
  • Wiki services or Wiki farms
  • Free or fee based
  • Self-hosted Wiki
  • A variety of OS software
  • Maximum control over the access and security
  • Fulfilment of specific requirements
  • - Necessity of own server
  • - Necessity of technical and network experience
  • - Longer start up time

13
Technically speaking(5)
  • How to choose a Wiki?
  • How many users
  • Are separate groups necessary
  • Is interaction between groups necessary
  • How secure should be the pages
  • Public or private pages
  • How skilled are the participants
  • How important is the layout

14
Other technologies mailing lists
  • Emails are sent to a designated email address
  • Mailing list refers to four things
  • A list of email addresses,
  • Subscribers the people receiving mail at those
    addresses,
  • Publications (e-mail messages) sent to those
    addresses
  • Reflector, which is a single e-mail address
  • The receiver is a software which broadcasts
    received mails to all subscribers
  • Two types of lists announcement list (or
    newsletter)and discussion list
  • Mailing lists are private (unlike Wikis)
  • Archived mailing lists provide functionality
    (like searching, indexing) to achieve tasks
    similar to the ones accomplished with Wikis

15
Other technologies web forums
  • Modern form of newsgroups
  • Users can change their own content after it has
    been posted
  • Archival of communication threads is intrinsic
  • Forums are more communication centric (unlike
    Wikis which are document centric)
  • Wikis provide better support for authoring,
    retrieval and interrelation of documents

From www.selfhtml.org
16
Other technologies blogs
  • The content is organised in reverse chronological
    order
  • One or few authors
  • Specific subject, personal information or
    combination of both
  • An interactive comments section right below the
    article
  • The comments can be written anonymously
  • A good tradeoff between the strict access control
    in traditional content management systems and the
    liberal approach in wikis

17
Other technologies blogs - Example
  • Blog About Stats
  • http//blogstats.wordpress.com/

18
Other technologies blogs - Example
RSS
Searching
Today
Recent posts
Tag cloud
Recent comments
19
Other technologies CMS
  • CMS and Wiki have same features and
    functionalities, but different emphasis
  • Wiki is more open to authorship
  • In Wiki the support for authorisation and
    authentication is less sophisticated
  • Wikis implement elaborate interpersonal conflict
    resolution mechanisms
  • Free open source vs. expensive proprietary
    solution (exceptions like Joomla)
  • http//www.cmsmatrix.com

20
Other technologies MS SharePoint
  • Used to build Intranet and Extranet portals and
    team sites
  • Maturity in terms of user interface, database
    design, workflow and communication features
  • Two platforms
  • Windows SharePoint Services (WSS) - free with
    Windows 2003 Server
  • Microsoft Office SharePoint Server (MOSS)
  • Strong when type specific documents are conserned
    (Word, Excel, PowerPoint)
  • SharePoint 2007 includes a wiki (low profile)
  • Not necessary to compare SharePoint to Wiki but
    rather to other CMS

21
Other technologies MS Lotus Notes
  • Two products
  • Louts Domino Server
  • Lotus Notes
  • Good interoperability with DB2, JSP and XML but
    poor third party support
  • Some integration possible between Notes and wikis
  • Preferred for hosting large reference documents
    or more formal documents within Intranet

22
Wiki best practices
  • A large user base is needed
  • Work best when the organization structure is flat
  • Willingness to share information worry for not
    receiving credit
  • Conduct guidelines the five pillars of
    Wikipedia
  • When introducing wikis often expectations are too
    high
  • Although simple wikis need introduction
    tutorial or workshop
  • Wikis are never finished this needs to be made
    clear from the beginning
  • Some content should be present at the time of
    introduction

23
Example scenarios Overview
  • Building collaboratively a knowledge base (METIS
    wiki, R wiki, Ubuntu wiki)
  • Collaborative software development
  • Education, teaching, training
  • Collaborative authoring (MSIS task force on
    software sharing, UNIDO INDSTAT 2 documentation)
  • Intranet (UNIDO Intranet)

24
Example scenarios METIS Wiki
  • To help experts in statistical agencies develop
    metadata management systems and processes.
  • Enterprise wiki Confluence hosted by UNECE
  • Content is structured around Case study entries
  • The case studies follow a predefined template
    with six topics
  • Only authorised users can enter and edit content
  • Easy upload from an Word document
  • The complete case study document in PDF format is
    provided too

25
Example scenarios METIS Wiki (2)
26
Example scenarios R Wiki
  • R is a system for statistical computation and
    graphics. It provides, among other things, a
    programming language, high-level graphics,
    interfaces to other languages and debugging
    facilities.
  • -- R-core development team
  • An (unfriendly) R-Help mailing list
  • R Wiki launched in 2006
  • Uses DokuWiki engine (targeted to software
    documentation) R-specific extensions
  • Distinguish between
  • large guides and books and
  • short tips

27
Example scenarios R Wiki (2)
  • Statistics
  • 2800 pages
  • 460 pages with probably legitimate content (h2
    titles)
  • 650 registered users

28
Example scenarios Ubuntu Wiki
  • Ubuntuusers http//www.ubuntuusers.de
  • A portal (in German) provides everything
    necessary about Ubuntu and its derivatives
  • Single entry point to
  • Web forum ask questions
  • Wiki read (and/or write) guides and
    explanations
  • Blog publishes news from Ubuntuusers
  • Clean structure build on a small number of top
    level categories download, installation,
    drivers, security, programming and so on.
  • This structure can be further extended

29
Example scenarios Collaborative software
development
  • A small team of software developers working on a
    midrange project
  • A Wiki is included in the development process
  • The Wiki is not a part of the developed project
  • Wiki is used to
  • Share know-how about third party products
  • Collect information about competing products
  • Store meeting minutes
  • To-do lists
  • Wiki is inappropriate for technical documentation
    of the source code (too informal)

30
Example scenarios UNIDO SDMX pilot project
31
Example scenarios Collaborative authoring
  • A small team of up to 10 members (possibly
    distributed geographically and organizationally)
    with the task of creating one or more documents
  • Real time or asynchronously
  • Software tools and technologies
  • Supported file formats
  • Text chat or conferencing
  • Tracking changes and revisions
  • RSS feeds and email updates
  • Private and public sessions
  • Real time co editing
  • Possibility for adding comments
  • Spell checker

32
Example MSIS Task force on software sharing
  • Cross-organizational workgroup with 10 members
  • No face-to-face meeting was envisaged
  • Evolution
  • a) conventional mail exchange
  • b) web forum
  • c) wiki hosted by ISTAT
  • Some initial structure was offered, which turned
    out to be sufficient
  • Real time (teleconferences) and asynchronous
    editing
  • Advantages
  • free
  • simple
  • no problems with the organizational borders

33
Example scenarios Intranet
  • Quick and uncomplicated collecting of information
  • Google, Nokia, Motorola
  • Why (top ten reasons - from TWiki blog)?
  • Slowing of the e-mail flood
  • Up-to-date
  • Open structure
  • Powerful tools
  • Flexibility
  • Operability
  • Transparency
  • Security
  • Low resource demand
  • Cost savings

34
Example scenarios UNIDO Intranet
  • Launched in 2006 as a successor of the previous
    conventional HTML site
  • Mediawiki with many optional modules
  • Statistics
  • 20000 pages
  • 8000 pages with probably legitimate content
  • 650 registered users
  • 200 users actively contribute content
  • Semantic MediaWiki (SMW) experimental
    installation

35
Example scenarios UNIDO Intranet
36
Wiki engines
  • Wiki engine is the software enabling the wiki
    services
  • An overwhelming list (by programming language and
    by name) is provided at http//c2.com/cgi/wiki?Wik
    iEngines
  • A TopTen list (what criteria?) can be found at
    http//c2.com/cgi/wiki?TopTenWikiEngines
  • MediaWiki, MoinWiki, TikiWiki, DokuWiki
  • Help for choosing and comparing
    http//www.wikimatrix.org/

37
Information retrieval and structure in Wiki
  • Common critique hard to find information if
    unfamiliar with a specific wiki
  • Structuring the wiki
  • Useful structures are created by the user
  • A particular structure can be created, suggested
    or enforced
  • Structuring elements such as
  • Namespaces
  • Subpages
  • Categories
  • Different types of links
  • Keywords search
  • Templates
  • Skins

38
Semantic Wikis
  • Follow the idea of semantic web as envisioned by
    Tim Berners Lee
  • ?Enrich the WWW with machine processable
    information
  • A Semantic Wiki extends a Wiki by adding Metadata
    in the form of semantic annotations to the
    Wiki-pages
  • Semantic technologies RDF, OWL,Topic Maps, or
    Conceptual Graphs
  • Semantic navigation
  • in traditional Wiki - follow a link,
  • in semantic Wiki - additional information on the
    relation the link describes.
  • Semantic search e.g. SPARQL queries

39
Semantic Wikis Example
  • From http//semanticweb.org/wiki/Upcoming_events
  • Query
  • List all upcoming events (title, city, country,
    start and end date), sorted by end date
  • ltask format"table" sort"end date" gt
  • end dategtCURRENTYEAR-CURRENTMONTH- C
    URRENTDAY
  • titleName
  • has location cityCity
  • has location countryCountry
  • Start date
  • End date
  • lt/askgt

40
Semantic Wikis Example
41
Summary
  • Simple and inexpensive (if not completely free)
  • Ideal scenario a small group of people working
    intensively on related material
  • Intranet for a moderately sized company or
    organization
  • How well does it scale?
  • How does it mach the organization culture?
  • Although Wikis hold much potential, the norms for
    their use are still emergent
  • Design guidelines needed

42
References
  • B. Leuf and W. Cunningham. The Wiki Way
    Collaboration and Sharing on the Internet,
    Addison-Wesley Professional, 2001
  • B. Huettner, M. K. Brown, and C. James-Tanny.
    Managing Virtual Teams Getting the Most from
    Wikis, Blogs, and Other Collaborative Tools.
    Wordware Publishing, 2007.
  • M. Krötzsch, D. Vrandecic, and M. Völkel.
    Wikipedia and the semantic web - the missing
    links. In Proceedings of Wikimania 2005 - The
    First International Wikimedia Conference.
    Wikimedia Foundation, 2005.
  • D. Frongia and C. Vaccari. Introduzione al Web
    2.0 per la Statistica, Contributi ISTAT, 4, 2008.
  • J. A. West and M. L. West. Using Wikis for Online
    Collaboration. John Wiley Sons, Inc., San
    Francisco, 2009
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