Virtual teams: Wikis and other collaboration tools

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Virtual teams: Wikis and other collaboration tools

18.05.2009

1

MSIS 2009, Oslo: Valentin Todorov

Virtual teams: Wikis and other

collaboration tools



Valentin Todorov

UNIDO

v.todorov@unido.org


(in collaboration with Diman Todorov, Cardiff University, UK)

MSIS 2009 (Oslo, 18
-
20 May 2009)


Virtual teams: Wikis and other collaboration tools

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MSIS 2009, Oslo: Valentin Todorov

Outline



Introduction: what is Wiki; Web 2.0; technical aspects


Comparison with similar technologies


Purpose, strengths and limits of wikis


Example scenarios


Wiki engines


Information retrieval in wikis


Summary and conclusions


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MSIS 2009, Oslo: Valentin Todorov

What is a Wiki



“The simplest online database that could possibly work.”

--
Ward Cunningham



“A
wiki

is a collection of
Web pages

designed to enable
anyone with access to contribute or modify content, using
a simplified
mark
-
up language
.”

--
Wikipedia




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What is a Wiki



A piece of server software that allows users to freely
create and edit Web page content


Any Web browser can be used.


Wiki supports hyperlinks


Has a simple text syntax for creating new pages and
cross
-
links between internal pages on the fly.


Wiki is considered a
Web 2.0

technology


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MSIS 2009, Oslo: Valentin Todorov

What is Web 2.0



Web 2.0 is a term often applied to a perceived ongoing transition of
the World Wide Web from a collection of websites to a full
-
fledged
computing platform serving web applications to end users. Ultimately
Web 2.0 services are expected to replace desktop computing
applications for many purposes.


--
Wikipedia




Web 1.0 was all about connecting people
. It was an interactive
space, and I think
Web 2.0 is of course a piece of jargon
, nobody
even knows what it means. If Web 2.0 for you is blogs and wikis, then
that is people to people. But that was what the Web was supposed to
be all along.

--

Tim Berners
-
Lee


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MSIS 2009, Oslo: Valentin Todorov

What is Web 2.0



Prominent examples for Web 2.0 applications:


flickr


facebook


del.ico.us.


A commonly accepted set of characteristics of Web 2.0:


participatory


decentralized


linked


emergent


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Are you
Web 2.0
compliant?



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MSIS 2009, Oslo: Valentin Todorov

Are you
Web 2.0
compliant?


http://web2.0validator.com/


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MSIS 2009, Oslo: Valentin Todorov

Technically speaking




Special mark
-
up


language



Simple, but poses a
significant entry
barrier



WYSIWYG content
entry


wiki toolbar


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Technically speaking…(2)


Highly dynamic content: how to ensure quality of this
content?



A complete revision history


Subscribe for notifications


Major and minor changes


Subscribe to an RSS feed


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Technically

speaking…(3)


Revision history
example



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Technically speaking…(4)



There are the following two categories of Wikis:



Wiki services or Wiki farms


Free or fee based



Self
-
hosted Wiki

+ A variety of OS software

+ Maximum control over the access and security

+ Fulfilment of specific requirements

-

Necessity of own server

-

Necessity of technical and network experience

-

Longer start up time


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Technically speaking…(5)



How to choose a Wiki?



How many users


Are separate groups necessary


Is interaction between groups necessary


How secure should be the pages


Public or private pages


How skilled are the participants


How important is the layout


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MSIS 2009, Oslo: Valentin Todorov

Other technologies:
mailing lists




Emails are sent to a designated email address


Mailing list refers to four things:

1.
A list of email addresses,

2.
Subscribers
: the people receiving mail at those addresses,

3.
Publications

(e
-
mail messages) sent to those addresses

4.
Reflector
, which is a single e
-
mail address


The receiver is a software which broadcasts received
mails to all subscribers


Two types of lists:
announcement list

(or
newsletter)and

discussion list


Mailing lists are private (unlike Wikis)


Archived

mailing lists provide functionality (like
searching, indexing) to achieve tasks similar to the ones
accomplished with Wikis


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MSIS 2009, Oslo: Valentin Todorov

Other technologies:
web forums




Modern form of newsgroups


Users can change their own content
after it has been posted


Archival of communication threads is
intrinsic


Forums are more
communication

centric (unlike Wikis which are
document

centric)


Wikis provide better support for
authoring, retrieval and interrelation
of documents

From
www.selfhtml.org



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MSIS 2009, Oslo: Valentin Todorov

Other technologies:
blogs




The content is organised in reverse chronological order


One or few authors


Specific subject, personal information or combination of
both


An interactive comments section right below the article


The comments can be written anonymously


A good tradeoff between the strict access control in
traditional content management systems and the liberal
approach in wikis



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Other technologies:
blogs


-

Example


Blog About Stats

http://blogstats.wordpress.com/



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MSIS 2009, Oslo: Valentin Todorov

Other technologies:
blogs


-

Example

Tag cloud

Today

Searching

Recent
posts

Recent
comments

RSS


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Other technologies:
CMS




CMS and Wiki have same features and functionalities, but
different emphasis


Wiki is more open to authorship


In Wiki the support for authorisation and authentication is
less sophisticated


Wikis implement elaborate interpersonal conflict resolution
mechanisms


Free open source vs. expensive proprietary solution
(exceptions like
Joomla
)


http://www.cmsmatrix.com


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MSIS 2009, Oslo: Valentin Todorov

Other technologies:
MS SharePoint




Used to build Intranet and Extranet portals and team sites


Maturity in terms of user interface, database design,
workflow and communication features


Two platforms:


Windows SharePoint Services (WSS)
-

free with Windows 2003
Server


Microsoft Office SharePoint Server (MOSS)


Strong when type specific documents are conserned
(Word, Excel, PowerPoint)


SharePoint 2007 includes a wiki (low profile)


Not necessary to compare SharePoint to Wiki but rather to
other CMS


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MSIS 2009, Oslo: Valentin Todorov

Other technologies:
MS Lotus Notes




Two products


Louts Domino Server


Lotus Notes


Good interoperability with DB2, JSP and XML but poor
third party support


Some integration possible between Notes and wikis


Preferred for hosting large reference documents or more
formal documents within Intranet


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Wiki best practices



A large user base is needed


Work best when the organization structure is flat


Willingness to share information


worry for not receiving
credit


Conduct guidelines


the five pillars of Wikipedia


When introducing wikis often expectations are too high


Although simple wikis need introduction


tutorial or
workshop


Wikis are
never

finished


this needs to be made clear
from the beginning


Some content should be present at the time of introduction


Virtual teams: Wikis and other collaboration tools

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MSIS 2009, Oslo: Valentin Todorov

Example scenarios: Overview





Building collaboratively a knowledge base (METIS wiki, R
wiki, Ubuntu wiki)


Collaborative software development


Education, teaching, training


Collaborative authoring (MSIS task force on software
sharing, UNIDO INDSTAT 2 documentation)


Intranet (UNIDO Intranet)


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MSIS 2009, Oslo: Valentin Todorov

Example scenarios:
METIS Wiki


To help experts in statistical agencies develop metadata
management systems and processes.


Enterprise wiki
Confluence
hosted by UNECE


Content is structured around

Case study
entries


The case studies follow a predefined template with six
topics


Only authorised users can enter and edit content


Easy upload from an Word document


The complete case study document in PDF format is
provided too



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Example scenarios:
METIS Wiki
(2)


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Example scenarios:
R Wiki


R is “a system for statistical computation and graphics. It
provides, among other things, a programming language,
high
-
level graphics, interfaces to other languages and
debugging facilities.”

--

R
-
core development team


An (unfriendly) R
-
Help mailing list


R Wiki launched in 2006


Uses
DokuWiki

engine (targeted to software
documentation); R
-
specific extensions


Distinguish between


large guides and books and


short tips


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MSIS 2009, Oslo: Valentin Todorov

Example scenarios:
R Wiki
(2)


Statistics:


2800 pages


460 pages with probably legitimate content (h2 titles)


650 registered users


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Example scenarios:
Ubuntu Wiki


Ubuntuusers
:
http://www.ubuntuusers.de


A portal (in German)


provides everything necessary
about Ubuntu and its derivatives


Single entry point to:


Web forum


ask questions


Wiki


read (and/or write) guides and explanations


Blog


publishes news from
Ubuntuusers


Clean structure build on a small number of top level
categories: download, installation, drivers, security,
programming and so on.


This structure can be further extended


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MSIS 2009, Oslo: Valentin Todorov

Example scenarios: Collaborative software
development


A small team of software developers working on a
midrange project


A Wiki is included in the development process


The Wiki is not a part of the developed project


Wiki is used to


Share know
-
how about third party products


Collect information about competing products


Store meeting minutes


To
-
do lists


Wiki is inappropriate for technical documentation of the
source code (too informal)


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MSIS 2009, Oslo: Valentin Todorov

Example scenarios:
UNIDO SDMX pilot project


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Example scenarios: Collaborative authoring


A small team of up to 10 members (possibly distributed
geographically and organizationally) with the task of
creating one or more documents


Real time or asynchronously


Software tools and technologies:


Supported file formats


Text chat or conferencing


Tracking changes and revisions


RSS feeds and email updates


Private and public sessions


Real time co editing


Possibility for adding comments


Spell checker


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MSIS 2009, Oslo: Valentin Todorov

Example:
MSIS Task force on software sharing


Cross
-
organizational workgroup with 10 members


No face
-
to
-
face meeting was envisaged


Evolution


a) conventional mail exchange


b) web forum


c) wiki hosted by ISTAT


Some initial structure was offered, which turned out to be
sufficient


Real time (teleconferences) and asynchronous editing


Advantages


free


simple


no problems with the organizational “borders”


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MSIS 2009, Oslo: Valentin Todorov

Example scenarios: Intranet


Quick and uncomplicated collecting of information


Google, Nokia, Motorola


Why (top ten reasons
-

from TWiki blog)?


Slowing of the e
-
mail flood


Up
-
to
-
date


Open structure


Powerful tools


Flexibility


Operability


Transparency


Security


Low resource demand


Cost savings


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MSIS 2009, Oslo: Valentin Todorov

Example scenarios:
UNIDO Intranet


Launched in 2006 as a successor of the previous
conventional HTML site


Mediawiki

with many optional modules


Statistics:


20000 pages


8000 pages with probably legitimate content


650 registered users


200 users actively contribute content


Semantic MediaWiki (SMW)


experimental installation


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Example scenarios: UNIDO Intranet


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Wiki engines



Wiki engine is the software enabling the wiki services


An overwhelming list (by programming language and by
name) is provided at
http://c2.com/cgi/wiki?WikiEngines



A
TopTen

list (what criteria?) can be found at :
http://c2.com/cgi/wiki?TopTenWikiEngines


MediaWiki, MoinWiki, TikiWiki, DokuWiki



Help for choosing and comparing:
http://www.wikimatrix.org/




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Information retrieval and structure in Wiki



Common critique: hard to find information if unfamiliar with
a specific wiki


Structuring the wiki


Useful structures are created by the user


A particular structure can be created, suggested or enforced


Structuring elements such as


Namespaces


Subpages


Categories


Different types of links


Keywords search


Templates


Skins


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MSIS 2009, Oslo: Valentin Todorov

Semantic Wikis



Follow the idea of semantic web as envisioned by Tim
Berners Lee



Enrich the WWW with machine processable information


A
Semantic Wiki

extends a Wiki by adding Metadata in the
form of semantic annotations to the Wiki
-
pages


Semantic technologies:

RDF, OWL,Topic Maps, or
Conceptual Graphs


Semantic navigation
:


in traditional Wiki
-

follow a link,


in semantic Wiki
-

additional information on the relation the link
describes.


Semantic search: e.g.
SPARQL queries


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MSIS 2009, Oslo: Valentin Todorov

Semantic Wikis :Example

<ask format="table" sort="end date" >


[[end date:=>{{CURRENTYEAR}}
-
{CURRENTMONTH}}
-

{{CURRENTDAY}}]]


[[title:=*|Name]]


[[has location city::*|City]]


[[has location country::*|Country]]


[[Start date:=*]]


[[End date:=*]]

</ask>



From
http://semanticweb.org/wiki/Upcoming_events


Query:


List all upcoming events (title, city, country, start and end date),
sorted by end date


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MSIS 2009, Oslo: Valentin Todorov

Semantic Wikis :Example


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Summary



Simple and inexpensive (if not completely free)


Ideal scenario: a small group of people working intensively
on related material


Intranet for a moderately sized company or organization


How well does it scale?


How does it mach the organization culture?


Although Wikis hold much potential, the norms for their
use are still emergent


Design guidelines needed


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References


B. Leuf and W. Cunningham.
The Wiki Way: Collaboration and
Sharing on the Internet
, Addison
-
Wesley Professional, 2001


B. Huettner, M. K. Brown, and C. James
-
Tanny.
Managing Virtual
Teams: Getting the Most from Wikis, Blogs, and Other Collaborative
Tools
. Wordware Publishing, 2007.


M. Krötzsch, D. Vrandecic, and M. Völkel. Wikipedia and the
semantic web
-

the missing links. In:
Proceedings of Wikimania 2005
-

The First International Wikimedia Conference. Wikimedia
Foundation
, 2005.



D. Frongia and C. Vaccari
.
Introduzione al Web 2.0 per la Statistica,
Contributi ISTAT
, 4, 2008.


J. A. West and M. L. West.
Using Wikis for Online Collaboration
. John
Wiley & Sons, Inc., San Francisco, 2009