Monday, September 26, 2005

More Wiki Questions

So we're up to 100 users today. Good going. I have also had very encouraging responses to the process thus far. We need more content and more editing, but I am confident it will come in time. So far, so good.

Several more questions came in today that I want to address briefly here…

Q1: Why is this wiki, which is supposed to be an official ASU planning tool, being hosted on That seems weird to me. Can I trust it?

A: Nothing nefarious here I assure you. It was simply a matter of getting the site up quickly. Using my hosting provider I was able to establish the site over a weekend, by myself, at no extra charge. Hosting it inside ASU would have been a much more expensive proposition, would have taken a lot longer, and required the efforts of lots more people. Remember, at this point the University Technology Office has exactly one employee. So I decided to be nimble instead of orthodox.

(This choice is a microcosm of the choices departments make all the time. When using centralized resources is expensive or slow relative to our budget or time frame, we opt to go outside. Maybe it’s a little weird, and it may in the end create more work, but sometimes it’s the only way to meet the requirements of the customers, in this case potential planners who would have no patience for a stalled process. And if you consider how often that happens around here, I take it back, there’s nothing weird about it).

In the end, since the readership isn't restricted to ASU, and only registered users can edit or post, unless we run into major vandalism issues, it doesn't seem to matter much where it’s hosted. If it’s an issue of being able to find the wiki, where do people suggest I place references to it?

I don't see any other usability issues. Or is there something I'm missing?

Q2: The blog and the wiki are great as far as they go, but there are a lot of people that don't "do" this level of tehcnological gimmickry. Nevertheless, those people might have great ideas. What are you doing to reach out to the "non-bloggers", the “un-wikian”?

A: Definitely an important issue. The whole point of the early part of this effort is outreach. But if we rely solely on technology to get the word out, how will we reach out to the non-techies?

The first and most important way is evangelism. While not by any means universal, the blog and the wiki are getting serious readership inside of ASU. If readers who believe in this process take the evangelism mission seriously and reach out to people who are either not aware of the process or were initially turned off by its reliance on technology we can dramatically increase the level of participation.

Through evangelism, new people will be turned on to reading the blog and the wiki. And others can be engaged in group sessions where a techie gathers the group's thoughts and posts them to the wiki on the group's behalf. With active outreach like this, I am confident the process can reach a much greater cross section of the ASU community.

Second, I am committed to personal evangelism. If you know of a group of people that you think I can turn on to this process, let me at 'em. And as the process continues, and we begin to make decisions, or find ourselves on the brink of decisions, I am similarly committed to conducting open forums to talk about those decisions and enlist help.

Finally, I am working on deploying two new email addresses: one to submit questions to; the other to submit wiki content to. The question address will make it easy for people to ask questions like: "Why can't I get access to every lecture as a podcast?" or "Why can't I register a benefits change on line?" Hopefully that will give us a different window into what's important to a cross section of people.

The wikiContent address will allow people who find the wiki editing interface too forbidding to nevertheless submit articles or edits – as text, or word documents, or powerpoints, or digital whiteboard pictures, or whatever. Anything to gather the best ideas.

Additional thoughts on how to reach out beyond the blogosphere?

Q2: What's going on with the moderator list? Looks a little uneven to me. Are you assigning them at random? Are people self-selecting? What is the moderator's job anyway?

A: No, moderators are not self-selecting. At this point, all the moderators have either been selected by me or have applied and been accepted by me.

There is a great deal of difference of opinion about the moderation team. Some people feel we have too many moderators. Some feel we have too few. Almost everyone thinks the representation is uneven.

Myself, I think there are still too few moderators, and I agree that the coverage is uneven. I am hoping the existing moderation team will begin to seek out their colleagues (from a variety of points of view) to expand these teams where necessary. I am also still interested in applications from interested parties, but at this point I will be asking the moderation team's opinion about additions.

As to what a moderator's job is, in the beginning it’s :

  • to provide shape to the individual sections,

  • to create a skeleton for the plan to develop around

  • to focus effort on the vital questions

  • to be certain that the most important questions and answers are represented in their respective spaces.

As the sections begin to take shape, I would expect the moderators to begin to drive the most important articles toward a finished form, to begin to make decisions about contentious issues, and to protect "finished" pages from further editing. Protected pages can still be commented on, but the page itself will no longer be editable outside the moderation team unless the discussion drives us to unprotect it again.

Hope this covers some of the burning issues. Any other questions?


vincenzo,  September 27, 2005 at 11:42 AM  

Can't there be a link to these pages (wiki & blog) somewhere on the site? A simple link may make it a bit easier to hit. Just a thought...

andrew,  September 28, 2005 at 9:32 AM  

Not necessarily the tool for every task: Congress Abandons WikiConstitution
All in good fun... :)

Nancy September 28, 2005 at 12:25 PM  

I've been seeing/hearing a few questions, or issues, come up consistently over the last few wiki-days, in the blog, in the wiki and in person.

1) How can we engage faculty in this process?

In the wiki, someone mentioned that an email introducing the wiki could be sent to department heads. Someone else said that links to the wiki and blog could be added to the IT space on ASU Web ( Good ideas. (Sorry I'm not taking the time to cross-link here.)

Here are some other proposals:

* Adrian could look for groups to address in person, as he did for WebDev.

* Moderators, especially from the "", "academic", "research" and "knowledge assets" (library) areas, as well as any other interested parties with faculty connections, could personally evangelize the idea. Meaning: Talk to people. Show them the wiki. Ask those that "get it" to talk to other people. Here is a golden opportunity for people to help shape, not just "IT's" destiny, but the University's. Information Technology is the University's communication system, and increasingly, a large percentage of its face on the world.

* Place links to the blog and wiki on ASU's main Website somewhere, possibly as an Announcement of some kind. Ditto, include in Announcements for a bit.

2) This discussion - or any broad effort - shouldn't be branded "IT" because it turns people off.

I've heard this at least twice recently and heard it frequently enough in the past, especially regarding ASU's Web. Will someone please explain this to me? I have never understood the problem and have never heard the reasons first-hand.

3) Faculty - the few who know there's a wiki - are laughing at it.

I swear I've heard this several times and have no clue who these amused faculty members are. It's just "THEY're laughing" or "THEY're dubious"... Who are they? Would they like to share the joke with the rest of the class? :)

I taught a few upper-level courses at ASU. Others engaged in this discussion have had professorships or taught here or at other universities. Do we have a "schoolie/townie" problem, or is it something else? Honest... if this is a problem we need to know more about it. Because those faculty members are losing a major opportunity to help design course-delivery and other communication mechanisms that could help them be better, broader teachers in the future.

Greg,  September 30, 2005 at 5:23 AM  

I have a concern that some in IT who are at the front lines where the rubber hits the road are so busy whith their every day work of keeping the operational evironment going that they don't have the time necessary to contribute to the wiki.

They want to be involved in the process and have plenty to contribute since it will affect them and what they do over the next 5 to 10 years very much.

What can they do?

ASU Design Professionals Forum » Blog Archive » Give a Monkey a Laptop and You’ll Have a Monkey with a Laptop October 5, 2005 at 4:09 AM  

[...] on. If your not up to speed, you can get involved with the project on the ASU wikki or on Adrian’s blog. I’m starting with a small student pool questionnaire and som [...]

Johnny Mulder February 8, 2008 at 6:53 AM  

The wikis are taking over academia. Take a look at the open blogs at Harvard. A cutting edge education is available online. The best minds are putting their best thoughts out available for anyone to see.

geld lenen February 22, 2008 at 6:19 AM  

Johnny, how trustful are Wikis? Even on the Harvard-domain. Still a lot of professors are afraid to share their work on-line. Try Google Books, a lot of stuff is not there neither on a normal search...

Johnny Mulder March 15, 2008 at 11:49 AM  

Hi Geld,
Thank-you for the information. I don't think I've tried Google Books.
I do believe most Wikis are reliable but you are absolutely correct about some professors sharing their work online. This is their property but I know one of my professors at Harvard has so much of her work online you could become an expert in the field by doing a little digging and a lot of studying.
I love this too. Stimulating for an infovore!

Goedkope Lening April 4, 2009 at 3:24 AM  

In the Netherlands I worked with a lot of teachers to develop digital lessons. Sharing work on internet is a major issue. Even on intranet it is a problem. But after a year of working this way, teachers saw the major benefit for all and started updating their work to make it even better.