As part of a class project I’ve been reading the Online-News mailing list and responding to some of the issues and discussion brought up there.
An interesting thread about Wikis started this week. Wikis are web sites that allow users to write, update and maintain the content, usually stored in some sort of database. The idea of letting just about anyone update content on your site might seem crazy, but the idea is that since anyone can update it, and backups are kept, there are likely to be many more people willing to fix a bad page than make the page bad in the first place. Perhaps the best-known one is http://www.wikipedia.org/. This site is probably a librarian’s nightmare, since everything, from the indexing terms to the source citation (if any), is left up to whoever wanders by. It seems to work fairly well, though. I wouldn’t put anyones life on the line, but if I wanted some background on a subject Wikipedia is as good a place to start as any.
The thread started when someone posted the problems they were having in choosing and starting one. Wikis are pretty easy to program, which means just about everyone has written their own, and many of them concentrate on anything but good architecture. Other posters noted that they found Wikis to be useful internally, but no one here seemed to be using them with the public in a big way.
Apparently posting and reading here can pay off. Someone mentioned an article about Rosalind Resnick at http://www.businessweek.com/smallbiz/content/jun2003/sb20030625_5361.htm. She started an opt-in email marketing company that she later sold for $111 million in cash. Years ago she used to post to this group. I really miss the Internet boom. I think I may have missed my chance to put together a couple of ideas and a web site, and then cash in.