This website covers topics on knowledge management, personal effectiveness, theory of constraints, amongst other topics. Opinions expressed here are strictly those of the owner, Jack Vinson, and those of the commenters.

The individual and the collective

Stowe Boyd has just given me about the best description of why I like blogs in comparison to wikis.  In blogs the author shines through.  In wikis, nothing human shines through. 

Stowe's article is on the just-announced Google-Knol project, but the first two paragraphs are what caught my attention.  Google Knol Attacks The Wiki Ethos At The Heart Of Wikipedia:

One of the reasons I like blogs is that they are written by individuals: at least the good ones are. A specific perspective on some issue is presented, without the necessity for a review or editorial process, except for whatever the author wants to impose on his or her self.

This is also one of the reasons that I don't really groove on wikis: they are a collectivized, blendo kind of medium, where individual voice is ablated by the passage on many hands on many keyboards. While the result is interesting, it is seldom as clean or clear as the insights of an individual. I am not spitting on collective intelligence, note: just the wiki medium as the way to get there.

Blogs are focused on a topic (or range of topics) with a heavy dose of the perspective of the owner.  Readers get content, but they also have to understand that the content is slanted to the perspective and experience of the owner.  Wikis are focused on the content.  Wikipedia in particular has evolved the neutral point-of-view style and strong preference for factual writing that kills many articles.  I note that not all wikis are like this, but the point that Stowe makes is interesting.  Wikis don't acknowledge the authors in their standard configuration and usage.

In all this discussion of social software, it really is the concept of connecting one person to another that appeals to so many.  Wikis bring a lot of people together to contribute.  And if they already know one another (in a work setting, for example), they can be a great asset.  But I can't imagine a wiki alone as enhancing the sense of community.

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