Ward Cunningham | “Federation” | Oct. 24, 2012 | Realtime Conference

@WardCunningham suggests the feedback loop is faster with a publish-and-review strategy, rather than a review-and-publish strategy.  The Wikipedia Neutral-Point-of-View works for history, but for future-oriented or individually-oriented content, there needs to be room for a chorus of voices.

[0:45] What does open data really need, especially in corporate environment, to be able to be share, and not be afraid of sharing?

[0:55] I’ve developed a new wiki, and it’s called the Federated Wiki.

[1:00] The project, which started before this application, was called the Smallest Federated Wiki, and did that at the Indie Web Camp.

[1:15]It reminded me that I was always guiltly that the everybody was bringing content to my site. When they finally said “why I am making Ward famous, I ought to start a blog”, I said yeah, you should. A lot of the real talent that was authoring on wiki — which was about patterns, and then design, and then extreme programming, and then agile — it was all hammered out on that site.

[1:50] Wikis have settled in, and made me famous.

7:15 Instead of having a review and publish strategy, I had a publish and then review strategy. [….] The feedback loop is 10 times faster, in some cases 100 times faster than on a traditional publication. […] It had good signal-to-noise ratio, because I had a good feedback loop.

[9:00] Another thing that happened was the notion of recent changes. you could always find out about what people were talking about now. [….] That meant that you go away for a week, and come back, and catch up in an hour.

[10:30] This brings me to federation. [….]

[10:50] Let’s not all have our own wikis and just write to our own and read everybody else’s. It’s kind of like the blogosphere, except that we put enough affordance in there that it really does feel like a wiki. […]

[11:10] There’s so much that we do with distributed computers, so that that distributed computer feels like one computer. Making that distributed computer feel like a bunch of computers is going to be good way to be for a number of things.

[11:30] In decision making, there’s something called groupthink. You have a pretty good idea, but somebody else mentions his pretty good idea, and it just shuts you down. You say, his pretty good idea is actually better than my pretty good idea, I’m going to forget my pretty good idea. But if you’re in a small community, isolated from that other pretty good idea, you can bat your idea around with a few people near you, and get it to be a really excellent idea, and it might have more potential than the other one. So, keeping thought leaders separate for a little while actually improves the quality of thinking.

[12:10] This is something that doesn’t happen on Wikipedia. They have a different rule. They say, everyone is editing the same pages, but you’re required to have a Neutral Point of View. If you’re talking about history, where it is possible, with enough consulting and references to assert that you really do have a Neutral Point of View, you can get away with it. It works on Wikipedia.

[12:35] But if you’re talking about forward-looking things, where it’s not clear what the right way to go is — and my work recently has been in sustainability, and I know there’s going to be change in the future, and I just want to inform that with good data — anything that is future oriented or individually oriented, there needs to be room for a chorus of voices. There needs to be a lot of ideas where we can make them all possible to express.

[13:15] With the idea of federation, I’m thinking that everyone brings something to the conversation. If all you’re bringing is spam to the conversation, you’re not going to get much attention.

[13:35] You bring some of your own storage, you bring your own bandwidth, you bring some of your own value that you might find unique. You have the opportunity to make your voice heard.

[14:00] On the blog, every time you start, you start on a blank page. On a wiki, you found a conversation, and improved it just a little. You take that idea that no one starts from a blank slate.

[15:30] One person asked me once, he said wikis are pretty neat, but do they have to be so ugly? The answer is yes, basically they do. If you make it beautiful, then anyone who can’t match your beauty is closed out of the conversation.

[19.30] This [page] comes up, and looks for something useful to its left. I don’t look anywhere, I just look to my left. These came off different websites. One came off my home web site, but the graph came off of my laptop. This data doesn’t meet until it shows up in my browser.

[21:40] As I write on this, I’m making stuff for myself, and then just sharing it widely. If somebody finds value in it, that’s great. I don’t have to write carefully. I said does wiki have to be ugly? It helps to be able to write casually.

[22:00] I call it incremental paragraphs. I write fragments, just thoughts, and I want to type as fast as I can. [….] But then I evolve into more powerful words. Here, I’m taking this fragmented ideas, and saying “if I had to name that today, what would I name that”? What are the powerful words that I should use in a sentence. This is inching towards making a new page.

[23:20] I write paragraphs that are standalone. Sometimes they get a little bigger. But it they get much bigger than that, hyperlink. I already thought about those names, push it off onto names.

[23:35] Sociologically, I think this is profound. I don’t like writing, but I do like being in a community. This is wiki for the Twitter generation.

[32:30] I’ve been focused on three things. Federation, refactoring, and applying those two to open data.

More videos by Ward Cunningham on Federated Wiki can be found at http://wardcunningham.github.com/


David Ing blogs at http://coevolving.com , photoblogs at http://daviding.com , and microblogs at http://ingbrief.wordpress.com . See .

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