Category Archives: pbwiki

Wiki Wonders

An interesting post by Meredith Farkas We have wiki has prompted me to write a little about the wikis I’ve experimented with over the last 6 months. Back in June we needed a tool to collaborate on the training for our new LMS. It needed to be easily accessible by all of the trainers and allow us to share thoughts on the material and programme without sending hundreds of emails round. I was pleasantly surprised when a wiki was suggested and we ended up using pbwiki as it was very easy to set up and had a WYSIWYG editor that anyone could use. We then demonstrated the wiki at the end of the training sessions and opened it up to all staff to ask questions and add their own thoughts. Although it then gathered dust for a couple of months while the LMS was delayed it was then resurrected when we went live and again had a need to share information and answer questions that everyone could see. Now things have settled down, we’re getting used to the LMS and the wiki has gone quiet again but the great thing is that over the last few months nearly every member of staff looked at the wiki for information and a number of people have had a go at adding information. Six months ago most of them had never heard of a wiki! The lessons I’ve learned from this so far include… not calling a wiki a wiki unless you want to spend a lot of time explaining what a wiki is; spend some time setting up pages and writing a useful front page so that people can jump straight in and start typing; use a wiki for people to ask questions and then not only can everyone see the answers but you can also search for them easily when you need to update the information; use a wiki with WYSIWYG editor as any amount of HTML is hugely offputting!

The second wiki I’m involved with is a conference wiki set up for our annual Forum for Interlending conference this year, Interlend 2008. As our conference committee is spread from Scotland to the south of England we are only expecting to meet a couple of times in person and last year the amount of emails we used to organise things was incredible. As my email client is not great at searching I spent a lot of time saying “I know I read that somewhere…” and sending and receiving information that had already gone round at least once. So far we have used the wiki to plan out the conference programme, discuss and share information on possible speakers and create a list of questions and answers about the practical aspects such as costs and transport. Next week we plan to open the wiki up to delegates so that they can see the programme develop and share their thoughts and questions on the delegates’ page and I’d like to have an update blog that people could read via RSS or on the wiki. Anyone interested in seeing the conference wiki in action after next week can email me for the password.

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My 2.0 Experiments

Tonight’s project was investigating del.icio.us and LibraryThing and both sites were truly fascinating.

Since getting my broadband up and running at home I have been pushing my little Mac Mini to the max checking out all those mysterious sites which were heard of but never seen (at least not at my workplace!). Blogs, RSS feeds, wikis, podcasts, vidcasts, photo sharing – “social software” “web 2.0” “library 2.0”, it was time to play…

Here are my thoughts so far on what I’ve tried and tested…

Bloglines
This was my first real venture into the 2.0 world. As we are unable to download anything at all onto our work PCs I wanted an RSS reader that I could access from anywhere. Bloglines has certainly transformed my online experience although it has given me indigestion a few times when all the blogs I subscribe to get updated at once with really interesting posts! Now I check my RSS feeds at least once a day and can even sort them into folders like my email. I also have my blogroll from Bloglines showing on my blog here (over on the right there) and it updates here when I update it there.

Flickr
The more blogs I read the more I looked at links to Flickr. I don’t take a lot of photos but I did enjoy uploading some of my favourites and I always enjoy looking at other people’s photos. There is so much more to Flickr that I haven’t even looked at yet like groups and forums.

Blogger My Blogging tool of choice! I tried a couple of others but this was the simplest to set up and just start blogging. I’m on the Blogger Beta version so there are some bugs and new things arriving but I’m certainly blogging and you’re reading it here!!

MySpace The one that most people have probably heard of! Although I’m probably the target age group etc I have to say that almost no one I know uses this site! I mostly joined up because one of my favourite bands Cato Street Conspiracy moved there and I thought I’d investigate. So far I have found my younger sister and someone I went to university with 10 years ago – not exactly a social hub… On a more practical note this site is blocked at work as we have the same filters in place as the schools and MySpace is very firmly on the dodgy list in the UK. Think it may be sometime before we have a MySpace presence as excellent as Denver Public Library over here.

PBWiki Peanut Butter Wiki – as a peanut butter addict I had to use this as my first attempt at creating a wiki. Mostly I used it to plan with the idea of an interactive staff manual for my interlibrary loans department and it was simple and easy to use. Before I knew it I had a wiki that worked and would be really useful, no more carrying round notes or uploading PDF files to an antiquated staff intranet. I’m really interest in taking the staff wiki idea forward… watch this space!

del.icio.us Tonight I used del.icio.us for the first time but I doubt it will be the last. I’m always finding things at home and then wanting to look at the website at work (or vice versa) and I also use PCs on the enquiry desk at work and can’t remember the website address of every bookmark on my desk PC. I do not have the memory of an elephant!! del.icio.us was so easy to use that I can’t believe I didn’t try sooner. Originally I was put off by mentions of Google toolbar and downloading toolbar buttons (not approved of at work!) but I have no Google toolbar and adding bookmarks to del.icio.us is as easy as adding them to my browser. Haven’t looked at anything else on the site yet, just added some bookmarks and tagged them to see what happens but I’m looking forward to having a play.

LibraryThing Another site that I”ve heard a lot about but never looked at. Now I have a pile of books on my desk that I have “catalogued” and I’m very excited by this site. I don’t imagine I’d use LibraryThing for some of its suggested uses – if I’m in a bookshop and can’t remember whether or not I own a copy of a book then I don’t own it and don’t need to look at LibraryThing on my mobile to check my home catalogue! But imagine being able to check your local library catalogue via a mobile phone. LibraryThing is so much friendlier than most library OPACs I’ve seen and does everything new LMS suppliers offer and more. Working in interlibrary loans I’ve looked at most public library OPACs in the UK and a good number of the academic ones as well, none of them make me want to stay and look around once I’ve found the book I want. LibraryThing does.

I did plan to include a jargon free guide to these sites as well but this post is already too long so this is the end, for now…