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Structured Wikis at Work - Enterprise 2.0 in Action, at NASA Ames, 2010-08-17

© 2010, NASA Ames Research Center
This is the presentation material for the 50 minute Director’s Colloquium talk on "Structured Wikis at Work - Enterprise 2.0 in Action" at NASA Ames, 2010-08-17.

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Abstract: A wiki enables teams to organize and share content and knowledge in an organic and free manner, and to schedule, manage and document their daily activities. Learn from the founder of TWiki, the leading open source enterprise wiki what exactly a wiki is, and how you can use it to enhance the communications within your organization and between organizations. Learn also how a structured wiki can bring Enterprise 2.0 into the workplace.

See also: What is TWiki, public TWiki sites, TWiki screenshots, TWiki.org Blog

   Copyright © 2010 by Twiki, Inc. This presentation may be reproduced as long as the copyright notice is retained and a link is provided back to http://twiki.net.  

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Slide 1: Structured Wikis at Work

How Structured Wikis bring Enterprise 2.0 into the Workplace

  • Wiki, a writable web: Communities can share content and organize it in a way most meaningful and useful to them
  • If extended with the right set of functionality, a wiki can be applied to the workplace to schedule, manage, document, and support daily activities
  • A structured wiki combines the benefits of a wiki and a database application
  • This talk explains basic wikis and structured wiki, covers its deployment, and shows some sample applications using TWiki, an open source enterprise collaboration platform

Presentation for NASA Ames, 2010-08-17
-- Peter Thoeny - peter.thoeny.public@twikiPLEASENOSPAM.net - Twiki, Inc.

Slide 2: About Peter

  • Peter Thoeny
  • CTO and co-founder of Twiki Inc, the Enterprise Agility company
  • Wikis for Dummies cover Founder of TWiki, the open source wiki for the enterprise, managing the project for 12 years
  • Invented the concept of structured wikis - where free form wiki content can be structured with tailored wiki applications
  • Recognized thought-leader in wikis and social software, featured in numerous articles and technology conferences including LinuxWorld, Business Week, Wall Street Journal and more
  • Graduate of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich
  • Lived in Japan for 8 years, developing CASE tools
  • Now in the Silicon Valley for 12 years
  • Co-author of Wikis for Dummies book

Slide 3: Agenda

  • What is a Wiki?
  • Enterprise Collaboration
  • Demo of Structured Wiki
  • What is TWiki?
  • Structured wikis
  • Collaboration challenges at the workplace
  • Wiki champion
  • Initial deployment of a wiki
  • Overcoming barriers to adoption

Slide 4: What is a Wiki?

  • WikiWikiWeb = Writable Web
    • As quick to contribute as e-mail
    • As easy to use as a website
  • Ward Cunningham implemented the original WikiWikiWeb in 1995 to collaborate on software patterns
  • Inspired by HyperCard; some call it a Blog for groups
  • The original WikiWikiWeb has these features:
    • Read-write web, every page can be edited using just a browser
    • HTML form based editing with a simple markup
    • Pages are linked automagically with WikiWords

Slide 5: Wiki Has Come a Long Way

  • Wikis are becoming a pervasive technology

Slide 6: Wikipedia - The 800 Pound Gorilla

  • Wikipedia: Wiki + Encyclopedia Wikipedia
  • A free encyclopedia written collaboratively by you
  • Project started in January 2001
  • The most active public wiki: 3,000,000 articles and 12,000,000 registered users in the English language Wikipedia alone (ref. Wikipedia statistics)
  • Anyone in the world can edit any page.
  • Doesn't that lead to chaos?
    • Domain experts contribute
    • Well defined policies for contributing and handling content
      • ALERT! BUT: Reality of edit wars, and larger interest groups overpowering smaller groups
    • Graffiti gets removed quickly (many eye balls; rollback available)
  • Content can be freely distributed and reproduced under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License (GFDL)

Slide 7: Trend of Term "Enterprise Wiki"


Slide 8: Enterprise Collaboration Landscape 80s


Slide 9: Enterprise Collaboration Landscape 80s - Networked


Slide 10: Enterprise Collaboration Landscape Today


Slide 11: Enterprise Collaboration Landscape Today - Web 2.0


Slide 12: Enterprise Collaboration Landscape Today - Enterprise 2.0


Slide 13: Structured Wiki Applications - Whet Your Appetite


  • Event tracker of Peninsula Swiss Club
  • Outage tracker of an IT organization
  • Sales Pipeline Tracker of Twiki, Inc.

Slide 14: Demo: Event Tracker


Slide 15: Demo: Outage Tracker


Slide 16: Demo: Sales Pipeline Tracker


Slide 17: What is TWiki?

  • twiki-combo-200x166.png TWiki is a wiki engine and wiki application platform, established in 1998
  • TWiki is specifically built for the workplace
  • Large number of TWiki Extensions: 200+ actively maintained extensions
  • Open Source software (GPL) with active community, hosted at http://TWiki.org/
  • 5,000+ downloads per month, 500,000 total downloads, estimate 60,000+ installations, 130+ countries
  • Est. $27M of human capital invested (ref. Ohloh)
  • Source Forge 2009 “Best Enterprise Project” Finalist (among 230,000 open source projects)

Slide 18: TWiki Open Source Community

Slide 19: Commercial Open Source

  • ubuntu-debian.png Commercial open source[1]
    • vs. community open source
  • Model of Fedora/Red Hat, Zimbra, MySQL
    • vs. Debian, PostgreSQL, ...
  • Criteria for success:
    • Market share, pace of innovation, health of community
  • ying-yang.png Twiki Inc supporting community: TWiki.org hosting, feature enhancements, sponsor dev summits and user meet-ups, marketing, ...

[1] The Commercial Open Source Business Model by Dirk Riehle

Slide 20: Twiki Enterprise Agility Platform

System Architecture Diagram of Twiki Enterprise Agility Platform


Slide 21: Under the Hood: TWiki I/O Architecture


Slide 22: Competitive Landscape of Wikis & Enterprise 2.0


Slide 23: TWiki in Action


Slide 24: What is TWiki used for?

  • Shared notebook for teams: Projects, repository, scheduling, meetings
  • Departmental collaboration tool: Processes, project reviews, QA tracking
  • Intranet publishing tool: IT, HR, ISO standards
  • CMS with focus on free-form collaboration: Requirements capture
  • Knowledge base: Problem/solution pairs with attached patches
  • Platform to create wiki applications, such as news portals, inventory systems, issues tracking systems

Slide 25: Who is using TWiki?

  • Many corporations, such as 3Com, AMD, Alcatel, AT&T, Boeing, ... Xerox
    • BT, Disney Corp, Motorola, SAP, TI, Wind River and others have submitted success stories
    • Major TWiki deployments: Google, Motorola, Nokia, Oracle, Sun, Wind River
  • Academia, such as Biowiki of UC Berkeley
  • Also Internet communities, such as Java.net's Javapedia
  • Browse the TWiki Installation directory to see who is using TWiki for what purpose

Slide 26: Wiki Basics: Getting Started

Slide 27: What is a Structured Wiki?

  • Goal of a structured wiki:
    • Combine the benefits of a wiki and a database application
  • Wiki:
    • Organic content: The structure and text content of the site is open to editing and evolution
    • Open content: Readers can refactor incomplete or poorly organized content at any time
    • Hyper-linked: Many links to related content due to WikiWord nature
    • Trust: Open for anyone to edit, "soft security" with audit trail
  • Database application:
    • Highly structured data
    • Easy reporting
    • Workflow (e.g. purchase requisition)
    • Access control

Slide 28: Usage Pattern in a Structured Wiki

  1. Users typically start with unstructured wiki content
    • Example: Call-center status board
  2. User discovers patterns in content
    • Example: Call-center status board has fixed list of users and fixed list of time slots
  3. User or administrator builds an application, typically in iterations
    • Goal: Automate tasks based on discovered patterns

  • In other words: A structured wiki enables users to build lightweight applications

Slide 29: Example: Call-Center Status Board, v1

  • Requirement for status board:
    • Easily see who is on call at what time
    • Easily change the status board
  • Start with a simple bullet list for status board v1:
    • 07:00am - 11:00am: Richard
    • 11:00am - 03:00pm: Peter
    • 03:00pm - 07:00pm: Sam

Slide 30: Example: Call-Center Status Board, v2

  • Status board v1 does the job, but lets make it more presentable and useful:
    • Convert the bullets into a table
    • Use WikiWord links to team member's home pages for easy reference
    • Add Backup person
  • Improved status board v2:

Slide 31: Example: Call-Center Status Board, v3

  • Status board v2 is presentable, now lets make it more user friendly:
  • Improved status board v3, view and edit:

Slide 32: Why Deploy a Wiki?

  • Wikis are robust
  • Wikis are fun and easy to use
  • Wikis solve some of the limitations of existing collaboration software:
    • Maintenance of static intranets
    • Taming internal e-mail flood
    • Implementation of business processes

Slide 33: Challenges of Static Intranets

  • Challenges - Static Intranet Some content is outdated
  • Incomplete content
  • When was the page last updated?
  • Difficult to find content
  • Inconsistency across departments
  • Special tools, knowledge and permission required to maintain
  • Content is static, it has a "webmaster syndrome":
    If an employee discovers a page with incorrect or insufficient information, the employee will often ignore it because it takes too much time to find out who the webmaster is and to write an e-mail requesting an update

Slide 34: Wikis and Static Intranets

  • Wiki and Static Intranet Move some/all Intranet content into a wiki
    • No difference for readers to browse and search content
    • Employees are empowered to fix content on the spot
    • Ease of maintenance
    • No need to install client side software
    • Consistent look & feel
  • Paradigm shift
    • from: webmasters maintain content
    • to: domain experts and casual users maintain content

Slide 35: Challenges of E-mail

  • Challenges - E-mail E-mail and mailing lists are great, but:
    • Post and reply vs. post and refine/refactor
    • Great for discussion, but ... hard to find "final consensus" on a thread
    • E-mail is not hyper-linked and is not structured, content can't be grouped easily into related topics
    • E-mail and attachments are not version controlled and it is difficult to determine the history of a document
    • Not all interested people / too many people in the loop

Slide 36: Wikis and E-mail

  • Wiki and E-mail Move some e-mail traffic into a wiki
    • Ease of reference (cross-linking)
    • Flexible notification (favorites only, daily digest, RSS/ATOM feed)
    • Pockets of knowledge made available to interested parties
    • Audit trail / domain experts
  • Paradigm shift
    • from: post & reply
    • to: post & refine & cross-link
  • Send e-mail with link to content instead of content itself

Slide 37: Challenges of Business Processes

  • Challenges - Business Processes Business processes are implemented in large scale by IT department (Sarbanes-Oxley compliance etc.)
  • Teams follow formal/informal workflow to accomplish tasks, which is often a paper-based process (rolling out laptops to employees etc.)
  • No resources allocated to implement applications to automate these processes; IT department has no bandwidth to implement lightweight applications for a variety of teams

Slide 38: Wikis and Business Processes

  • Wiki and Business Processes A structured wiki is a flexible tool to support evolving processes
    • in the free-form wiki way -- linked pages, collaboratively maintained
    • and with a structured wiki application -- forms, queries, reports
  • Content contributors with moderate skill sets can build web applications
  • Paradigm shift
    • from: programmers create applications
    • to: all of us can build applications

Slide 39: Requirements for a Wiki at the Workplace

  • Version control -- audit trail
  • Access control -- security
  • File attachments -- document management
  • Ease of use -- productivity
  • Ease of administration -- productivity
  • Feature set -- create web applications
  • API -- integration with existing enterprise applications
  • Scalability -- room to grow
  • Support -- get help when needed

Slide 40: Role of Wiki Champion

  • A wiki champion is a person who:
    • understands the process of the work for a given project or business (the domain), and
    • knows how to use a wiki (best practices in collaboration)
  • The wiki champion is coaching the employees
    • Advocate, important role especially in the initial phase of a wiki
  • Typically a part time role
  • As the wikis gets larger and grows laterally, new wiki champions emerge

Slide 41: Initial Deployment of a Wiki

  • Plan content and rollout
    • Pain killer vs. vitamins
  • Build initial structure
  • Populate initial content with help from early adopters
  • Initial rollout with smaller group
  • Train and coach users Quick growth after slow start at Wind River
  • Do not underestimate inertia and time
  • Expect quick growth after slow start

Slide 42: To Click on "Edit" or not to Click

To click on Edit, or not to click, that is the question

Slide 43: Be Aware of Mental Barriers

  • Wikis can be intimidating; the wiki pages appear "official" and corporate
    • Overcome your own internal resistance to edit existing content
    • Paradigm shift: Content is owned by team, not individual
  • I want my contributions to be near "perfect"
    • It is more effective to post content early and let the team provide feedback and revise it iteratively

Slide 44: Wikis are Fun

  • Wikis are easy to use
  • Even people with moderate skill sets can build great content
  • Wikis are quick
  • Wikis change as your workflow changes

Slide 45: Summary

  • A structured wiki is a powerful platform for web collaboration
    • Collaborate in free form; add structure as needed
    • Use it as shared notebooks, a departmental collaboration tool, a publishing tool, a CMS and a knowledge base
    • Use it as a platform to create lightweight applications
  • Easy to share knowledge
    • Corporate brain gives a competitive advantage
  • Careful coaching is needed
    • Offer user training and wiki champion training
  • Viral growth after people "get it"

Slide 46: How can TWiki help your Organization?

This presentation: http://bit.ly/twPres10



   Copyright © 2010 by Twiki, Inc. This presentation may be reproduced as long as the copyright notice is retained and a link is provided back to http://twiki.net.  

See also: What is TWiki, public TWiki sites, TWiki screenshots, TWiki.org Blog

-- PeterThoeny - 2010-08-17

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