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Case Study: KQED's QUEST Program Managed by TWiki

2007-10-05 - 06:02:23 by PeterThoeny in General
Last night I went to the Wiki Wednesdays' October event in San Francisco. KQED, the National Public Radio/TV for Northern California, gave a presention on how they use TWiki in a structured way to manage the QUEST program. "QUEST is a TV, radio, web, and education series by KQED that explores science, environment and nature in Northern California." The program runs for 3 years and will produce 60 TV features and 48 radio features per year, as well as daily blogs and photo albums on Flickr.

Craig Rosa, the interactive producer of QUEST, and Lauren Sommer, the wiki champion first gave an overview of QUEST, and then explained how their structured wiki approach solved their needs. Usually, the TV folks and radio folks work without much interaction, but in QUEST they focused on getting getting all parties work together. The question was how to solve the cross-editorial challenges.

They looked at wikis listed at WikiMatrix. The criteria was:

  • Cross-platform and standards based
  • Programmable
  • Simplicity
  • Free or low cost
  • Tie to authentication system
  • Access restriction, but accessible from outside
  • Skinnable

After looking closer at TWiki, JotSpot, MediaWiki, PBwiki they decided to use TWiki, partly because it was already in use within KQED. One year ago they started with a new TWiki web for the QUEST program. Now they have 20 active users and 25 consumers of the wiki. They created several application over time to track story ideas, track approved features, and to coordinate other activities.

AJ Alfieri-Crispin, the TWiki administrator, created a TWiki Forms based application to track story ideas. A person can submit a new story idea by filling out a form: Title, description, contact person, media (TV, radio, community outreach, e.t.c.). They created the application in iterations, it was improved over time as they discovered usage patterns. The executive producer of QUEST stressed that all ideas need to be tracked in the wiki, "a story idea does not exist unless it is in the wiki". Initially, people just check-marked the media they are familiar with. Over time they interacted and learned from each other, and started to check-mark other media as well.

They defined an approval process to promote a story from an idea to an approved feature. Once approved they changed the TWiki form to the TV form (for a TV feature), a radio form (for radio), etc. Doing so pulled the story from the idea table and pushed it into the approved feature table. These tables are dynamically generated with a TWiki SEARCH. For each feature page they have supporting pages, created by clicking on a button in the feature page. One supporting page is an executive summary page that summarizes key data of each feature. This info is used to update the CMS that drives the website. For example, the TV episode Earthquakes: Breaking New Ground, lists title, description, latitude/longitude, air date, and episode number.

They use mostly TWiki to manage the QUEST program, with a few exceptions. Scripts are done in Word since they are updated very frequently by a single person. Once finalized it is stored in the wiki. Calendaring is done in Outlook, with a web interface. Their wish list for the wiki include a better WYSIWYG editor, a better way to attach large amounts of files quickly, better Office tools integration and better calendaring.

They installed the TagMePlugin for content tagging, but it is not used since there is little need for folksonomy because content is already highly structured.

Most people were new to wikis and nobody knew the structured wiki approach. The tool adoption caught on quickly because the executive producer promoted the wiki. The wiki champions got e-mail such as "can you put this into the wiki for me?" They were gently reminded to actively use the wiki. TV and radio is a fast moving environment, they plan to produce 500 stories in 3 years. They feel that it would not be possible to manage all these stories without the structured wiki approach. "The wiki is a matter of survival for us," Craig said. He estimates that what would take him one hour to do in the past takes now a few minutes.

Lauren gave a live demo of the wiki by adding a new story and promoting it to an approved feature. Pierre Khawand of People-OntheGO recorded the presentation for TWIKI.NET; we plan to provide a video summary that highlights key points.


CarloSchulz - 05 Oct 2007:

Interesting read, love to see demos :-). Thanks for sharing Peter.


Topic revision: r1 - 2007-10-05 - PeterThoeny

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