December Journal

Kate Bowles: What am I doing here? Below are some things that I set out to explore in Smallest Federated Wiki (SFW) which others call Federated Wiki Happening (FWH).

My aim has been to understand how wiki works as community, as collaborative journal, and as keeping place.

Thinking about practical uses for federated wiki is bringing up some questions and possibilities for me.

1. is it a useful way to enable a diverse team to collect and reflect on evidence of the multiple reference points they use in their work practice?

2. is it a useful way for students to engage in some focused reading and summarising of sources so that they can all make use of what they each find?

3. is it an environment for collaborative and associative thinking, or collaborative and collective writing, or both?

4. how can I help? I'm not a coder. I'm a content spinner.

Below are some of the things I've made in FedWiki, and below that is some reflecting and wishlisting.

## Category: lines cast out from this point

## Category: new things spun from found things

## Category: things forked and changed

## Category: found things I love

## Reflections and wishlisting

I want to change titles after they're made.

I want to delete entries.

I want to be able to close pages.

I want to be able to tag an article as a stub that needs more work by someone more expert in that area than me, so that this flare for help shows up in the Recent Changes.

I want to be able to tag an entry as a work in progress that is nowhere near finished so that people know to come back and check up on it later. Otherwise it seems to me likely that they'll take it away midpoint and then we'll both do the work of adding the exact same thing.

I want topic categorisation so I can put things in useful keeping baskets for me: found story, research article, glossary/definition, kite. Journalling these categories here is relatively time consuming.

When someone forks something I don't just want to see what (if anything) they did with it, but whether they linked it to something else. I'm interested to see what an idea means to others in different contexts.

I want to be able to see the way an idea forks and travels as a map, whether it started with me, or whether I simply took it from invisible hands and handed it on. I want to try to understand how it travelled.

I think I finally get the difference between linking and forking. UPDATE: No, no I don't.

I want to understand why I always have to fork in order to fix up something tiny. I'm an instinctive editor: I pop in to change "there" to "their" in someone's article, and suddenly I have it stuck to my shoe. That is, sometimes isn't it enough just to lean over someone else's shoulder and fix a tiny thing? Do you have to be given your own copy every time? (What risk are we avoiding here?)

I want to be able to show that I read and appreciated something even if I have no particular need to fork it for my own use.

I really love that editing and drag/drop is so simple.

I don't want to narrow what I'm exposed to. The charm of SFW for me has been randomly learning so many new things from people I don't know and wouldn't ordinarily meet or team with. I want to keep the doors and windows open to surprise. But the opportunity cost for this is that the firehose is flooding my house. I have already lost track of where things floated to. Sometimes they bob up again.

I can imagine using SFW in a time-delimited hack context -- say, a medical hack weekend. It's a great way to pool ideas quickly. It's lovely to watch people work on their ideas, on their own workbenches. I love that I can take a break, wander the room, see what someone else is making.

I have no idea what the coders are talking about. It's like being with architects when they talk with engineers about brace girders.

I especially struggle when coders helpfully explain tactics I could try for myself. I realise that we have a common language that appears to use shared, familiar terms, when in fact the explanatory metaphors are making it more confusing for me. See: fork. (What do you see?) Also: journal, factory, twin, flag. They all make sense on their own but there is no model in which they all work together easily for me.

I finally realise it's not that we're making things together. We're making things apart and making associations together. That's why this isn't wikipedia and it isn't blogging. But it's also why it becomes overwhelming, because there's no map and no pathmaking strategy except to try to remember to link backwards as well as forwards. So I can't see the associations, which is actually the thing I most long to know.

How hard would it be to make a map, I wonder? Or to be find another way to leave a series of markers, or create associative trails through tagging?

It occurs to me that there are cherished beliefs involved in the making of this that I'm not well placed to understand. Some of it seems dogmatic and perhaps it should be. I find myself wanting to open those windows too.

I like learning about the philosophy behind this.

I love knowing that the stuff I can't do isn't something I need to do. I like being here to do what I do best. As a result I have persisted longer than I would have to learn new skills.