Photo: Flickr user lifeontheedge

Friday, February 29, 2008

Wiki social networking

Wikia (Wales's wiki startup) has been adding some business-friendly features to the open Mediawiki platform that runs underneath wikipedia (and underneath a million other wikis). This time Jimmy just announced some new "social networking features" -- raising the obvious question what the hell does that mean?

Well, it looks like it means "user profile" pages in addition to regular user pages. The profile pages have a friends list and mini message board, plus a convenient list of the user's recent edits (which were already available elsewhere, but hey). On a technical level, all of this seems to be streamed into the page from centralized sources.

(The bad: There are two superficial facebook ripoffs: "gifts" and "awards". This could have been done in a much more general and creative way, instead of parroting specifics.)

This isn't as revolutionary as it probably seemed on the drawing board -- every site and its mother is adding these features now; it's one of those silicon valley echo surges -- but it's pretty cool and makes Mediawiki that much sturdier. ('Course, mediawiki still doesn't come with "enterprise-ready" features like WYSIWYG.)

Social networking isn't coming to wikipedia anytime soon -- a non-enyclopedia-related wikipedia community showed signs of emerging awhile back, even without explicit software support, but the self-appointed culture enforcers tut-tutted it away, and they'd be unhappy with this stuff.

(Also: Wikia's interface gets a little better each time I look at it. They should spend more time on wikis, damnit, and less flailing around in Google's general direction.)

No comments: