When I made the Vermont Cataloging Cooperative wiki with WikiMedia, it was because I wanted to try something new, and I already had experience with PBwiki. Well, now that I’ve had that experience with WikiMedia, I have moved my VCC wiki on over to PBwiki and forget that WikiMedia ever happened. Perhaps it is because it’s not as intuitive, perhaps because I didn’t read the instructions. Who knows, but the fact remains, I just like PBwiki better. So there.

Today I created a new wiki because, evidently, I am full of wiki ideas. This one is called the VLA Travel Wiki and is intended to serve as a meeting place for VLA members to coordinate carpooling and roommates for events. I’d link to it, but I made it private and invite only for the VLA membership so that folks would feel comfortable putting up contact information. I am really excited about it because it fills a need. I remember longing for something like this when I didn’t have a car and couldn’t afford to stay in hotel rooms by myself (heh, still can’t). And lo, do unto others, etc.

I have had an idea for an wiki for catalogers in Vermont for a while and this was the perfect opportunity to at least lay the groundwork. I’ve used PBWiki before, so I figured I’d try out Wikimedia. I haven’t yet figured it all out, especially how to make a new page or archive pages…it’s possible that all these layers of functionality aren’t free. Or maybe I just need to, I don’t know, actually read the documentation and learn to use it. Anyway, here’s a link to it: Vermont Cataloging Cooperative.

The wiki experience that I had most recently was with the New England Library Leadership Symposium (NELLS) Wiki. There were 33 people at NELLS and in times of old, all of these people would be introduced at the event and all other information would be sent in a static email, to which to sender would get eleventy million replies. With NELLS, though, the coordinators set up a wiki with their own introductions and the details of the trip, and it was up to the rest of us to fill in our own information. This was great because when we arrived, we already had some knowledge of each other and something to talk about! You knew whose brain you might want to pick over a particular problem. And, it save the coordinators all that time, so they could focus on the Symposium and not on reading 33 individual emails a day!

I have always thought that a wiki would be the ideal policy writing tool. If your library needs a policy written, toss a draft up in a wiki and let everyone edit it until it is the right policy for your institution with everyone’s input included. Plus, you didn’t have to sit through hours and hours of meetings just to say that you found a minor typo. And again, it saves the person who is ultimately responsible for presenting the final version from having to read 10 different emails with 10 different attached documents with 10 different sets of edits. We just did some policies at my work and I totally did not suggest this method, but I will next time!

Overall I really like the wiki, but this technology more than any other seems to be the 2.0 thing everyone and their mother is using. I see so many wikis that just don’t make sense as wikis. And their not being used as wikis, their being used a websites. This is not to say that one can’t also be the other, what I’m saying is that a lot of wikis are being used as websites and NOT wikis. I don’t know, maybe I’m being picky, but I was always taught to use the right tools for the job. Does this mean that I never unscrew something with a butter knife…no. But do I know that I am using the inappropriate tool…yes. Do these places (I wish I had a good example off the top of my head…maybe I’ll insert one later) know that they are not using the right tool for the job…maybe/maybe not. I guess I think there would be more success with these things if more people allowed themselves the time, like in this course, to really figure out what this stuff is about for before implementing it. I’d love to see the success rate go up a little, that’s all.