With changing technologies, the means of sharing data has evolved dramatically in the last decade. The data that once used to be sent via letters was then sent by email and now is a large ever changing database called a wiki, which can be accessed by any person, at anytime, anywhere. This concept of the rapid change in the use of Web 2.0 tools can be seen in the article in The New York Times, “An Internal Wiki That’s Not Classified” by Naom Cohen, where he talks about how the Diplopedia, the State Department’s wiki on the different world leaders which has helped the government enter more efficient and new phase where they have a greater and clearer access to information on the go. So one must wonder why the State Department not use a blog instead.
Wiki’s and blogs are both Web 2.0 tools are similar but have inherently different uses. Wikipedia defines a wiki to be a “Website that allows people to add, modify, or delete the content via web browser.” It is a collaborative tool that generally serves as a means of knowledge management. It can be found both on the World Wide Web or can be used within the intranet of a company. When we think of wikis we usually think of something like Wikipedia, which is an online encyclopedia that has information of various things, which have been contributed by users all around the world. It is constantly changing and evolving, as different people contribute information on various things. This is what makes wikis an excellent tool for collaboration. On the other hand, we have blogs or web logs. Wikipedia defines blogs to be “a discussion or informational site published on the world wide web, consisting of posts that appear in reverse chronological order.”
The primary difference between the wiki and the blog is the content. Wikis are generally a database or an information source, whereas when one is looking for opinions or DIY’s they generally head to a blog. Another difference would be the number of authors, since the wiki is a collaborative tool, there are multiple authors and the number of authors usually grows with each edit. A blog however, generally has a single author, who pens down their thoughts about a topic, and does not edit their posts after it is published. Blogs are places where people are free to express their opinion. People don’t express their opinions on a wiki, it is more fact based.
With Web 2.0 tools like wikis and blogs it is becoming easier to meet the goal of convergence. Convergence is important for any company or group as it improves group cohesion. It is a way to network with other people and cuts down barriers and distances. Blogging and wikis allow for convergence to happen because they allow a person to broadcast their thoughts and opinions. These thoughts are then commented upon to improve its quality and allow a means for collaboration among the authors. In the article “Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales on making most of the company wikis” we see that businesses are using wikis to “aggregate the knowledge of their far-flung employees, creating a place for them to electronically converge and collaborate on everything from planning meetings and documenting best practices to brainstorming about new products and processes.” They are using the tool to really create the best database their company can have in order to ensure maximum productivity. Blogging is also used as a great means for convergence. In the article “How can we measure the influence of the blogosphere?” by Katy E. Gill, we see that blogs are used by journalists as a means of recording their common lives, the day to day happenings around the globe. It serves as a means to not only provide information, but also as a life incident that is used to jog someone’s memory or a testament that something did happen.
Companies I feel should exploit their internal wikis more to create standard work instructions for each job. This would allow for less time being spent on knowledge transfer and more on productivity. Governments should also look into building wikis for its community to ensure that its residents know exactly what to do in the case of a catastrophic event to lessen the panic and restore order quickly.
In conclusion, both blogs and wikis are excellent tools of collaboration and expansion of information that is ever growing. In a world where information in limitless, these are excellent tools which allow us to catalogue all that is to be known and explore the unknown.