There is a great article on the Federated Wiki about the “mode of discourse” that is envisaged there, and it captures particularly well the spirit of this endeavor. Before I link to it, I need to note how to read it from the current prototypical servers, because it was impossible for me without instructions.
you will probably see a screen with several pages, not all of which are fully visible. Read the rightmost one. My screenshot captures the state when I read the page, but maybe once you go there, the “lineup” of colored squares above the heading might mention “newer” pages, then click the rightmost of these. If you want to scroll back and forth between these pages, don”t try this with the mouse but use the arrow keys:
Now the ideas about discourse are very original, interesting, and consistent. My taste is different, however, and so I don’t try to write my “disagreement” on one of the wiki pages. In fact I don’t have a disagreement yet that could be sharply contrasted from their statement and be integrated into a page or into the collection of pages. Rather, I just cannot believe that this approach will work for me.
I do agree with their point about the “Gotcha moment” that often shapes the discussions on forums, either when a long row of anonmyous or pseudonymous writers fight against each other about the one and only truth, or when astute people compete about who is the most witty in the rapid-fire exchanges where nobody bothers to write an appropriate subject line.
Fed wiki users need to carefully consider the page title because it is unique within the entire federation, and when you “fork” a page, the previous author will probably consider well how to integrate their thoughts in order to fork the page back, or else lose it as “older”. This kind of editing resembles more the slow reflective blog posting than the rapid-fire forums, let alone microblogging on Twitter and FB. In this respect, it fits my taste. And the decentralized, federated approach sounds promising as well — and I won’t exclude that, for some settings, it may become indeed ideal.
There were a lot of place metaphors in the discussions, including many garden related ones (and the notorious wiki gardener is known for that he must both charily nurture the tiny plantlets, and sometimes valiantly prune some branches). For me, still the blog as the “front porch” works best, where writers do not push their content on a central place but wait until visitors come along who are interested enough in the writer’s topic to go there and pull his/ her ideas, and maybe sit down and comment.
The federated wiki, to me, seems more like an allotment garden resort, where everybody needs to be careful that weed seeds won’t fly to the close-by neighbors lot. On the frontporch, by contrast, hospitality may also be practiced. But I think it is easier to develop unripe thoughts there, and it is also easier for readers to understand the different nuances between different “camps” than reading all statements in a unique page collection where politeness may be watering down the new emerging differences.
I am curious how it goes on.
PS. If you want to read more from the federation you might try the conversation clubs page, pick the rightmost instance of “Welcome Visitors”, and work your way back. Sorry, does not work if not logged in.