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Wikimedia Quarto/Extras/1

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In Passing


Quotes from individuals, people contributing to projects, in passing; as opposed to (and complementing) quotes from the press.

Only a few quotes were submitted that would make sense to people who didn't know the project in question. Perhaps next time...

Interview with Ward


Suggested questions


For the original interview questions, see Wikimedia Quarto/Interviews#Ward. A few more were added, suggested by Ward, or natural outgrowths of the conversation.

More from the interview


Ward Cunningham was generous with his time, and was willing to answer every question people submitted. Only 2/3 of the interview made it to the newsletter. Here are the highlights from the cutting-room floor (now complete). +sj+ 23:07, 22 Sep 2004 (UTC)

On Wikipedia

One thing


If there were one thing you could change about Wikipedia, what would it be? [this came after the previous discussion of "what still makes authoring difficult on a wiki"]

WC: <immediately> I'd put a wysiwyg editing interface in front of it. Well, you'd have to be careful not to break anything... but a wysiwyg editor would be the obvious choice. And I wouldn't be satisfied if it didn't work for anyone (on their browser). It's not worth having something that works for half your users, but breaks things for the other half.


Ward's Wiki


WC: I just did a study on my site, based on URLs, and it turned out that many people would spend 8-10-12 hours at a stretch posting, where they would post something every hour. I counted up the number of 'workdays' (one person spending at least 6 straight hours in a day) -- it was like having 8 full-time employees working on my site.
    These were just dedicated people. This was part of a project to find robots posting to the site... but most of these were not robots.

So you counted how many people made at least one post each hour for six hours straight, major or minor, and averaged that?

WC: Right, even if they were making minor edits, that's still like having a full-time proofreader. Maybe six hours wasn't the right number, but I needed a metric... And many of these people spent much more time than that on a given day. But 8 full-time equivalents... I figure, when people talk about active communities, if you have more FTEs among your community working on your site than you have staff keeping up the site, that's pretty active.     I wonder what the number would be for Wikipedia, would it be the same? 10x as many? 100x as many? That would be neat to know.

On the Wiki Way and Social Software

Wiki culture


People like to say its the culture of wiki, not the software, that's important.

WC: The simpler the program, the easier it is to tell it's not coming from the program.

But each software allows different communities to develop?

WC: Right...


Timeless wiki


[On the subject of wikis being timeless and email event-oriented]

WC: Even better than email for event-oriented communication is the blogosphere. Reading eachother's blogs has become something other than just journaling; another very important social phenomenon, no less important than [wiki].

Have you ever used a bliki?

WC: Blikis... I have used them, but since I wasn't used to operating in the blog space, I think I missed the point. What I really think is interesting is that you can start with such completely different premises [as wiki philosophy and blog philosophy], and have them converge asymptotically.

On different possible paths for wiki development

Wiki development paths


[there was a long segment about folk memory and shared spaces without immediate updates -- closer to a p2p wiki than to a single-server wiki -- in which there were multiple 'servers', each having immediate local updates and communicating updates more slowly with other servers]

WC: If the system were made more diffuse, and things added to the system weren't propagated across the entire system instantly, but good ideas were propagated along -- then there would be less attention available at any location [and so less gratification for vandals]... I developed a system I thought would work better, employing the same processes that a culture employs when propagating folk tales... [with] the ability to send out a story [from one "server" to others] and have the globally-useful bits come back : FolkMemory

[at another point]

WC: I was an object geek, and this was the first thing I had written in a long time that was not object-oriented. I wondered what would happen if the stories [articles] were objects. I think different community tools would be possible then.

On Microsoft


On Microsoft

WC: ...When I'm speaking about wiki, I'm speaking about me, but if microsoft is involved, there's an entire interview process, with PR people involved... Microsoft pays these people to be involved and on top of their relations.

...Maybe for another time.

WC: I think that would be excellent.