Fedwiki Happening

The March Fedwiki Happening is about to end, so it’s time to say goodbye. I am very grateful for the opportunity to be a participant, because it was a very interesting experiment.

Yes, I was able to glimpse the visionary idea and how it could be seen as promising, theoretically, in the very long run. As I understand it, this would be: No more edit wars, just fork and favor your own version, and no more gatekeeping publishing funnel, just fork your own issue and wait for the “peer-review after publishing”.

On a fedwiki page about Collaboration vs. Cooperation, I optimistically wrote: Working “on” a wiki page thus might suggest that there is collaboration, and hence a shared goal, and perhaps group think. But on the other hand, the Fed Wiki employs a networked style, the loosely connected style developed and proven in decentralized discussions such as blogs (distributed front porches). So it’s probably not sufficient to just consider the object/ matter of working together (collaborative, group), but also the style of working together (cooperative, networked).

But the assignment (on the topic matter of Teaching Machines, moderated by Audrey Watters) did not work well for me. On 2015-03-15, I wrote the following “Further thoughts”:

“Why don’t I engage with the topic content? I really intended to dutifully do the assigned homework, and there are plenty of pages that could be mined for generalizable ideas or patterns, and I do think this is a great advice for a learning step. But still I can’t get myself started, and I have to think about why not.

Currently I suspect that it is due to the sterile characteristic of the wiki pages, that they strive for optimum, unpassionate, information and for “softening the claims by the right amount” (quoted from [[Hospitable Editing]] ).

But I miss the author’s voice talking about WHY something is interesting, agreeable, questionable, important for them — and why I might like to engage with it, as well.

I miss the author’s meta remarks and inline comments, and I miss the opportunity to insert comments myself. On this occasion I noticed that the collaborative wikis I have worked with, did not resemble wikipedia (optimizing the final result), but were more like the MS Word Review function but with insertions and comments intermingled and not sharply distinguished from each other. And with color-coding by author!

Being not a social scientist, I often doubted why these person-to-person connections were so overrated in connectivism, while the concept-to concept connections seemed much more fruitful to me. And in a wiki, the latter ones are indeed perfectly optimized by a great network of hypertextual links.

But now I have realized that, without personal voices in between, the concepts alone don’t speak to me.”

I don’t complain about the conditions. As with rhizo14, I was fully aware that I would be a “lab rat” and I did it voluntarily. So I did not expect a ripe level of usability or a comfortable learning curve from the prototype software. For example, I readily put up with the unusual technique of comparing two versions side by side by finding where the paragraph lengths differed (fortunately, the page width was universally fixed). And with a bit of grumbling, I manually assembled the list of the pages that I had touched. Also I tried to help by reproducing the “Yellow Halo of Death” crash condition.

It was a bit more difficult to go without the normal Talk Page. But the most difficult thing was that there was no “What links here” page because this could have mitigated the contextlessness of the countless content pages. I would recommend to implement at least this feature for the next instance of the experiment.

I hope that we lab rats produced a sufficient amount of results for the experimentors. I think we did, and in this sense, the experiment should be seen as a success.

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4 Responses to Fedwiki Happening

  1. francesbell says:

    This is my second happening – and despite some reservations, I am slowly becoming hooked. It’s not just about the infrastructure or content or links (though I am very attached to some of the writing by others and myself) – for me, it’s about what I am learning about the process of writing and collaboration. The person-to-person connections can be enhanced by conversation and I think that is an area for investigation – what conversational layers can enhance the development of code and content at fedwiki? But what I have found (sometimes) at fedwiki is that there can be connection and shifting of ideas in forking and editing. That is what draws me in – despite my reservations.

  2. x28 says:

    Lucky you 🙂 And thanks for visiting!

  3. Lisa Chamberlin says:

    The conversation was there a bit – depending on the writer. (Hard to miss Alyson’s voice in any of her writings) – or the use of page folds and then commentary. But I found the secondary communication piece – the Google Group – an absolute necessity to stay engaged and think through topics with others. And, perhaps, that is the big takeaway…for FW to work with a more controlled topic or in a more controlled setting (e.g. a course), it needs a secondary place to have less controlled conversation. I don’t remember seeing you posting in there, but perhaps you were and I missed it?

  4. x28 says:

    I agree that the Google Group was necessary. But this centralized place is the opposite of federated. I don’t like it and I posted nothing except one introduction. But I read a lot, and most of the discussions were not content-related.
    Thanks very much for your view.

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