Wiki Writing – Content and Commentary: Parallel Structures of Organization and Interaction on Wikis – Will Lakeman

When I read this chapter, one quote stood out from all of the text. Lakeman tells us that hypertext has the “potential to reconfigure the activities of its writers, substituting the isolated production of closed documents with dynamic webs of intertextuality.” (144) What he is really saying is that hypertext removes the concept of lone writers, and creates a framework for collaborative writing. He also states that wikis are “relatively unique as a popular model of electronic writing.” (145) I would beg to differ. There are other models of electronic writing that are quite similar to wikis.

 In a recent class, horror was expressed by some of the students when discussing the concept of single-sourcing documents and utilizing content management systems (CMS). The main concern revolved around single-sourcing taking away the author’s voice and substituting a technology-driven anonymity. In addition, they felt the result was text with a sterile aspect, voiceless and devoid of any human connection necessary to make it consumer-friendly. How is this different from wikis?

 Like wikis, which open information to multiple authors, single-sourcing documentation and CMS employ that same concept, albeit on different platforms. The entire concept behind single-sourcing and CMS is to create text that can be applied in multiple formats, different platforms and for a variety of uses. It removes the lone writer from their position of creating entire documents in isolation. Single-sourcing and CMS store text in smaller chunks to be readily used for various document types. These smaller chunks of text can be created, modified and edited by any number of different writers. Changes and editing either update the source text to a new version, or create a new document chain. Some CMS have commenting feature, much like the discussion aspect of a wiki. Single-sourcing and CMS are especially pertinent for updating in smaller bits, rather than entire documents requiring updating. The updates are immediately applied across all documents that utilize those data chunks.

 We are reading about wikis as a collaborative, communal activity that creates a democratic social composition. Many of the same aspects that make wikis a collaborative, communal activity, apply equally to single-sourcing and CMS. The biggest difference is the motivation to create and contribute. Wikis are driven by a democratic notion of shared information. It creates personal satisfaction and the psychic income that comes from freely sharing with others. Single-sourcing and CMS are work-related, and therefore are profit-driven mechanisms. It changes one of the aspects that motivates workers to produce and achieve, that motivation is the tie between showing one’s work and the reward of payment received for that work.

 

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