Wikipedia is the free online encyclopedia that has taken the Internet by storm. It is written and administered solely by volunteers. How exactly did this come about and how does it work? Can it keep working? And maybe more importantly, can you transfer its practices to the workplace to achieve similar levels of dedication and quality of work? In this presentation I describe the structure, processes and governance of Wikipedia and discuss how some of its practices can be transferred to the corporate context.
This presentation represents the next step in the evolution of two Wikimania tutorials/workshops, see Presentations/Tutorials. If the slideshow doesn’t play, please use the PDF file download below.
Reference: Dirk Riehle. “Learning from Wikipedia: Open Collaboration within Corporations.” Invited talk at Talk the Future 2008. Krems, Austria: 2008.
Reference: Steven Fraser (editor). “Escaped from the Lab: Innovation Practices in Large Organizations.” In Companion of the 2008 Conference on Object Oriented Programming, Systems, Languages, and Applications (OOPSLA ’08). ACM Press, 2008: Pages 787-790.
Available as a PDF file; my part follows as HTML below.
Position statement for the OOPSLA 2008 Panel on Innovation Practices in Large Corporations
In most companies, the innovation process is organized as follows: A research unit suggests to build a prototype of some innovative product or feature, a line-of-business sponsor signs off on the project, the research unit develops the prototype, a product unit receives it and turns it into a real product.
The critical point is the transfer from research to product unit. Here, many things can go wrong, for example:
How we develop open source software can vary widely from project to project. However, the roles we play are similar across projects: user, developer, tester, documenter, committer, etc. For a while now, I have been interested in what open source means for software developer careers, in particular with respect to fame and fortune. The figure below illustrates some of this thinking:
This is a professional blog, so I usually leave humorous excursions into my life to my personal blog. Well, unless there is good reason for an exception. Today was such a day. That’s because today to much fanfare a new search service, improbably named CUIL was launched. A friend alerted me to the observation that searching CUIL for Dirk Riehle delivers (among other things) the following search result:
Title: End-User Programming with Application Wikis: A Panel with Ludovic Dubost, Stewart Nickolas, and Peter Thoeny
Author: Dirk Riehle
Abstract: Wikis empower users to collaborate with each other using prose. Users imprint data structures and processes onto wiki pages using social and technical conventions. Application wikis enhance wiki engines with lightweight programming features that aid in making data structures and processes explicit. Using these features, end-users can program a wiki to better support them in their collaborative processes and integrate their work into the overall IT infrastructure. Application wikis make database access and business process integration easy from within the wiki while maintaining the wiki-style of collaborative work. The panelists of this panel, together with the audience and the moderator, will review existing work and explore future research directions in application wikis.
Reference: In Proceedings of the 2008 International Symposium on Wikis (WikiSym ’08). ACM Press, 2008: Article No. 4.
The array of approaches to studying wikis is a source of wealth but also a possible source of confusion: What are appropriate methodologies for the analysis of wiki communities? Which are the most critical parameters (both quantitative and qualitative) for study in wiki evolution and outcomes? Is it possible to find effective interdisciplinary approaches to augment our overall understanding of these dynamic creative environments?
Abstract: Open source software has changed the rules of the game, impacting significantly the economic behavior of stakeholders in the software ecosystem. In this new environment, developers strive to be committers, vendors feel pressure to produce open source products, and system integrators anticipate boosting profits.
Abstract: Today’s wiki engines are not interoperable. The rendering engine is tied to the processing tools which are tied to the wiki editors. This is an unfortunate consequence of the lack of rigorously specified standards. This paper discusses an EBNF-based grammar for Wiki Creole 1.0, a community standard for wiki markup, and demonstrates its benefits. Wiki Creole is being specified using prose, so our grammar revealed several categories of ambiguities, showing the value of a more formal approach to wiki markup specification. The formalization of Wiki Creole using a grammar shows performance problems that today’s regular-expression-based wiki parsers might face when scaling up. We present an implementation of a wiki markup parser and demonstrate our test cases for validating Wiki Creole parsers. We view the work presented in this paper as an important step towards decoupling wiki rendering engines from processing tools and from editing tools by means of a precise and complete wiki markup specification. This decoupling layer will then allow innovation on these different parts to proceed independently and as is expected at a faster pace than before.
Reference: In Proceedings of the 2008 International Symposium on Wikis (WikiSym ’08). ACM Press, 2008: Article No. 21.
In the last few days, I’ve been reading up on author obfuscation. By “author obfuscation” I mean tools and techniques that will ensure an author’s anonymity when posting a blog entry or writing a document. You might think that not giving your name or writing under a pseudonym may be sufficient, but I don’t think this will stand the test of time. Specifically, if you are writing a blog under a pseudonym, you are creating a large corpus of text, all of which is being archived, and ten years from now smart algorithms may be able to correlate those postings with other work by you that identifies you as an author of the blog.