There is something sophisticated about the various Media Wiki communities I have experienced over the past 12 months. I edit Wikipedia, Wikiversity, Wikieducator and recently Wikinews and all of them have something in them that is entirely different to the other forms of communication I have used (blogs, commercial wikis, video sharing, photo sharing etc). I will never look back to the likes of Wikispaces now, and I’m not entirely sure why..
It could be the political idealism in the communities that sustain these MediaWiki projects.. while that’s attractive to me, its certainly not the key thing in them.
It could be the editing interface that makes it just that little bit more rewarding.. but there is no shortage of people who complain about that, even in the face of the obvious fact that it doesn’t stop a great many from using MediaWiki..
It could be the sense of working with a restricted palette.. a bit like painting with only 3 colours, it can be amazing what can be achieved through simplicity.
But most of all, I think it is the strong presence of people in these projects. People I do not know, but get to know. People in every corner of the various projects. Some of them angels, some of them arse holes, but all of them people, and making it all happen.
Wikiversity user CountryMike has initiated 2 projects that I think should get more attention. They are both reading groups around influential books. The first reading group is around Ivan Illich:Deschooling Society, the second reading group is for Eric Von Hippel:Democratizing Innovation
I find Brent’s (CountryMike’s) blog post says it all, and more…
And this is also what I’m finding particularly interesting lately — how I’m starting to use Wikiversity as my predominant learning environment, call it a Personal Learning Environment if you have to … but also possibly in a form that I’ve not seen discussed in other PLE discourses. The fact that I’m creating projects that I may not at this point have time to participate in immediately, but anticipate that if others do start contributing I will be inspired to participate myself is quite unique I think; it’s as if i’m setting myself and others up a space to potentially learn. But I don’t consider myself a “teacher, i’m more a technologist, but I am a learner and I want to learn in communities where-ever possible so what better way to facilitate my own learning than by creating a space where a community can form around, in this case, a text?
I just wish sometimes that I wasn’t in the education sector, that all around me seem to struggle to appreciate the things we see in MediaWiki projects and ideas like these.. but as Brent says, in time – people will find these projects, just like I have, and in time they will gradually prove their worth.
They first have to become curious about something like Wikipedia. Then they need to be so bold as to create or edit Wikipedia. Then they need to find and engage in discussion with other wiki authors, and then they go out with curiosity for the other MediaWiki projects, and so on. That is how it has been for me, over a course of about 2 years.
I recently explored Wikinews and wrote up the Al Upton scandal going on in South Australia this month. I have already met an administrator in Wikinews and discussed a few things, but most of all I marvel at all the quality news work going into Wikinews.. I am learning quite a bit about journalistic writing there actually, yet to put it into practice. It is by far a superior news source than edited paper/garden mulch.
I hope my experience will scale over to some of the teachers I am showing Wikieducator recently. Wikieducator is a MediaWiki like all the projects I’ve mentioned here, so the skills they learn in Wikieducator will transfer to Wikipedia etc. It would be great to see some of them branch out into the other MediaWikis and explore their voices there. It is something entirely different to blogging. Far less individualistic, much more collective and patient. I good vibe if you’re listening.
BTW, I don’t mean to suggest, by way of the image above, that Sunshine and I are vibing for polyamory. I just like the image in relation to this post 🙂