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The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted on: Tuesday, December 4, 2001

Byte Marks
Wiki mode open to everyone

By Bert Lum

Unbeknownst to many, Hawaiian words have crept into the technology vernacular. In the early 1970s, Dr. Norm Abramson developed the Aloha protocols for the efficient transmission of data over satellite circuits. Still in use today, this work was influential in the development of ethernet, the foundation of many commercial computer networks. More recently, an East Coast dot-com high flyer adopted the name Akamai Technologies as its moniker.

My most recent find (actually my friend Lisa turned me on to it) is a collaborative Web environment called Wiki. Ward Cunningham (c2.com/cgi/wiki) invented the idea to encourage collaboration and interaction amongst users. The premise is quite simple. Create a Web site that anyone can modify. You can create member lists to control access, but the real fun starts when anyone with an Internet account can chime in. The popularity of Wikis and Internet collaboration has resulted in a book authored by Bo Leuf and Ward Cunningham, "The Wiki Way" (wiki.org). For anyone interested in diving headfirst into having their own Wiki server, this book is the reference point.

But, since most of us won't have our own servers, let's explore a Wiki project called Wikipedia (wikipedia.com). The idea behind Wikipedia is to create an online encyclopedia that is open to contributors all across the Internet. A non-restrictive copyright license and format explicitly allows the copying of the information: What you post is freely copied and modified by other contributors. Wikipedia's goal is to reach 100,000 pages of information.

Without hesitation, I went first to the entry for Hawai'i (wikipedia.com/wiki/Hawaii). Although quite sparse, it's a start. I would suggest that if you feel the urge, explore the site and contribute. Don't be afraid. The theory behind Wikipedia is that people are basically good and want to participate in a helpful way. In a collaborative environment, we all help each other. The end result is useful content and a growing, supportive community. ;-)

Burt Lum is a click away at burt@brouhaha.net.