A wiki as a platform

Paul Currion at humanitarian.info got my attention with this:

I think there’s a lot of potential in… FrontlineSMS – mainly because it’s a platform. Like any good platform, it’s up to the end user (in this case, grassroots NGOs) to work out how they want to use it, and how they want to incorporate it into their organisation and activities.

Not being a software expert, I looked up Wikipedia:

A platform might be simply defined as ‘a place to launch software’. It is an agreement that the platform provider gave to the software developer that logic code will interpret consistently…

This sounds a lot like the strengths of a wiki – it’s a blank slate in many ways. People use Appropedia and other wikis in many ways. They create structures to use on certain types of pages, and are free to adapt or ignore those structures, as they innovate. And in a growing wiki with a very broad scope, there is a lot of room for innovation.

A topic that has come up repeatedly in conversations is whether a wiki is a good way to share designs and ideas for development, sustainability, open manufacturing etc, or whether a more structured approach is needed. I’ll look at some of those approaches in coming posts (filed under ).

I’ll leave it to others to decide whether a wiki is a platform in the software sense (and ask Is a Wiki a platform if you don’t program it?)

3 thoughts on “A wiki as a platform”

  1. Cool – a good API will help enormously. (Edit: I mean to say, good API tools will help enormously. The API for MediaWiki is working for reading – the Pywikipedia bot uses it – but the write API is still being debugged.)

    Your work is one of the projects I plan to blog on – I look forward to checking out the latest.

  2. I’ve been thinking some more about my own prejudices, and I think that – while I’m a big fan of wikis – they don’t fall into the same category as FrontlineSMS. While they are a platform, and a very flexible one, my problem with them is that they imply conversion to a new way of working in order to succeed. It’s not impossible, but it does need a range of factors to be in place for that conversion to happen. I’d be interested to hear Appropedia’s experiences in terms of getting user involvement – have you written any lessons learned?

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