Monthly Archives: March 2009

Wikis (vs. Blogs)

Wow, this can’t be that unusual of a post–there’s got to be tons of info already out there. Just catch this Kennedy-Nixon debate on the subject:


A dear friend called me–she must’ve been really lacking for tech info!–to determine if she should use a blog or a wiki on her project. She knew a bit of blogging from her travels, but had also heard me talk about managing some wikis with The Librarians. She wanted a place where an environmental coalition could track progress on their mutual goals.

Not only that, she wanted to post info for the public that wasn’t available elsewhere and needed a cost-effective means of communicating for the coalition’s partners–a mix of non-profits, government agencies and private industry. On top of that, there is no one on the team with web experience or funding for such.

I recently sat down with her to ask, as a neophyte, how she made her selection.
KT: I chose a wiki over a website since websites invoke a connotation of needing to be ‘polished.’ A wiki puts a more grassroots face on an issue, making its information accessible by all types of people. Our purpose was truly to share information in the simplest, easiest, fastest yet long-lasting way. And I chose a wiki over a blog because we needed a collaborative communication tool rather than a place to share news.

JW: There are so many free wiki building sites out there. For example, PBWiki provides free educational or personal pages. I also have used wetpaint. How did you choose which tool to use?
KT: A asked a few people I knew which ones they were using and I also did a little internet research on my own. Many of the wiki tools I found were overly formulaic but they also weren’t flashy and had a low entry level for new computer users.
Wikidot: 100MB, no ads, not good with Internet Explorer (IE) 6.0 or less
Bluwiki: no ads, very basic, mainly german sites
Intodit: questionable compatibility with IE
Wetpaint: unlimited MB?, image gallery, plain text editing

I went with wetpaint–despite its generic template–as it met our criteria: free, easily accessible by different browsers and users.

JW: Aren’t you a bit afraid to introduce the wiki to your collaborative?
KT: At first, I had the privacy settings open to anyone but after I remembered some public meeting participants who really sidetracked the issue of lead-poisoning, I decided to restrict who could create new content on the site. Comments are still open to everyone; I at least wanted to start out showing our collaborative how we could communicate with each other effectively at the wiki. I’ve taken the initial stab at collecting and posting info, and soon I’ll do a ‘show and tell’ at one of our meetings. I’ll then be able to train the non-techies, and I can easily explain that a wiki is simply a tool for communicating. I know that not everyone in the collaborative will become an avid wiki user or advocate.

JW: But maybe someone will adopt, and get excited about promoting the wiki or adding content.
KT: The end product is owned by the coalition, not the me or my organization as the creator. That’s the advantage to using a wiki over a website or author-connected blog. And there’s an added bonus for us, modeled after another wiki I found in my research, one that collected public comments as a tool to promote advocacy for their issue. I’m hoping we can move to that level of usage in the future.

Now, see the finished product (well, by nature, wikis are always a work in progress) from the Coalition to End Childhood Lead Poisoning in Denver.


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Filed under Tool

Why You’ll Be Behind If You Don’t Adopt Now

Today I received this email from Emma Williams, Managing Editor, Schmap Guides:
I am delighted to let you know that your photo has been selected for inclusion in the newly released sixth edition of our Schmap Los Angeles Guide:
Getty Center

If you use an iPhone or iPod touch, then this same link will take you directly to your photo in the iPhone version of our guide. On a desktop computer, you can still see exactly how your photo is displayed and credited in the iPhone version of our guide at:
Getty Center

Thanks so much for letting us include your photo – please enjoy the guide!

I must confess, Emma and I have emailed previously.

When ‘she’ wrote to ask if I would give permission for them to use my photo. The photo I’d posted to a Flickr group for Hostelling International. The group is a place for Rocky Mountain folks to post travel pictures, and I had shared a pic I’d taken of the Getty Center in Los Angeles.

HOW Schmap found me & my pic (the theoretical how, not the actual searching for photos tagged with ‘Los Angeles’ at Flickr) is mind-boggling. Not to mention the logistical coordination of obtaining permission, interfacing Flickr photos with a map, and essentially publishing a travel guide.
The genius of this is multi-faceted. And that’s not even dwelling on the marketing side of things!
Now here I am, marketing their albeit free travel map. Made you look, didn’t I?!

If organizations can throw something as innocent as a photo to the proverbial internet wind, and it can get caught up in the maelstrom of viral marketing, there’s no telling where that might lead, am I right??

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Filed under Making the Case

Book Review: Facebook Marketing

Facebook Marketing: Leverage Social Media to Grow Your Business by Steven Holzner was just published in 2008, but is already outdated since Facebook’s Pages update last week.

Nevertheless, it’s a fine tutorial for those bewildered by the many menus and aspects of Facebook’s user interface. I’d recommend it to anyone who’s spent the requisite 2 minutes setting up an account and wonders ‘Now what?!’

Chapters 1-4 walk you through (albeit with some outdated screen shots) setting up your account’s bells and whistles, and gives good detail on how and why to create groups, pages and events. There’s a chapter explaining ads, should you be interested in exploring paid promotion of your Facebook pages. If you have a savvy computer programmer, there’s an overview of developing Facebook applications, too.

Despite the rapidly changing social networking scene, Facebook Marketing serves as a useful primer to the beginning user, and even clarifies some more elusive Facebook aspects such as profile security, event invites, and searching for similar groups. There’s also coverage of Facebook Marketplace, which remains an arena I’m not willing to explore as it seemingly has little to no application to non-profits.


Filed under books