Apr 7, 2009

Wikinography Part 2: Wiki - A brief definition

A wiki is a ‘contained’ site of associated web pages the entire contents of which is produced by its users. In contrast to many semi-interactive online mediums, such as blogging, wikis do not merely ‘allow comment’—which is more along the lines of a post-facto adjunction. Wikis instead encourage, in fact their existence relies upon, construction via active participation as a wiki has no content, no author, besides that supplied by its visitors turned editors . Also characteristic of wikis is the ‘association of pages’. This association is accomplished through ‘linking’, and like any weblink, these links exist on one page and point to another page. But wikis are first and foremost concerned with internal linking; links from within user content to other user content. Links to other locations besides those ‘contained’ within the wiki itself (‘external links’) do exist, but appear far less frequently and have specific regulated purposes.

As its portmanteau namesake implies (combining ‘wiki’ with ‘encyclopedia’), Wikipedia is a wiki with the goal of constructing an online encyclopedia.[1] It is by no means the only wiki, and in fact intentions for and varieties of wiki abound, but at the same time it has become the concept’s iconic example. Those who are conceptually unfamiliar with the idea of a wiki are commonly nonetheless aware of Wikipedia, and in many cases Wikipedia has become a descriptive noun; ‘Is that the Star Wars wikipedia?’.


1. The term wiki is actually originally taken from a Hawaiin word for ‘fast’.


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