Open social networking and wikis


“If you want to find out what tools your staff are finding most useful at the moment, just go and see what your IT department is blocking.” – Quoted in CIO magazine on Enterprise 2.0

A lot of Web 2.0 is time-wasting in my view, but it’s clearly meeting people’s needs or wants. (Though I suspect it’s also triggering some deep-seated addictive behavior, the way television hooks us by triggering our orienting response.)

My prediction: The next generation of social networking tools will be much less intrusive, more integrated into our web experience, and enable us to find people we want to connect with, and stay connected. That well be good for our social lives, good for whatever projects we’re involved in – and it will be good for business,

What about wikis? So far there are not a lot of shiny social networking tools for wikis. There’s the wiki itself of course, people interacting on talk pages and user pages in the process of building a resource. But in terms of additional tools, the best examples I’ve seen are at Wikia, starting with their gaming and entertainment sites such as Halopedia. The use of structured pages such as a Social Profile (automatically linked from the user page) has a lot of potential. Kudos to Wikia for open-sourcing the code.

There are other tools for building better connections within a wiki: a window into a community conversation is possible on standard MediaWiki, and the newest pages feeds on the Appropedia homepage are possible with an extension; I’d also like to see new ways of aggregating discussions, so I see on a single page the discussions I’m following.

But the developments I’m looking forward to are those freeing us from having to visit a specific site. Being able to add our maps, twitter feeds, blog feeds and custom searches to the site or sites of our choice gives us much more freedom. We already can do all of those things at Appropedia now, thanks in large part to work done on Wiki Widgets at Hexten. I suspect there’s much more on the way, like a bookshelf that I can share between my profiles on different sites, with my reviews.

But when there’s a vampire application, a la Facebook, I’ll let it pass.

This post originally appeared at Pablo Garuda

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