Scott Trudeau and I were talking about the intersection of blogs and wikis, which I realize everyone else talked about two years ago. Maybe next I’ll start blogging about how I’m sorry that I haven’t blogged more, or pull post ideas from Anil’s list of clichés. I also had an insightful conversation with Mark Dilley about wiki organization and how it might apply to groups of blogs; something that might find its way into ArborBlogs.
One of the things that came out of my conversation with Scott was the idea of space with both. Blogs are one dimensional, posts are points on the axis of time. Posting over time makes a blog taller visually and wider metaphorically.
Wikis are two dimensional. If the fundamental unit of a blog is a post, the fundamental unit of a wiki is the page. Adding pages makes a wiki wider using our imaginary graph, and as a wiki page evolves over time the wiki gets taller.
Mark’s idea of organizing blogs into groups involves adding that second dimension to blogs. The blog becomes the fundamental unit, and the network grows wider as it adds blogs, taller as those blogs add good posts and deeper as blogs accumulate posts over time. Mark is looking for a tool to organize blogs and he thinks in wikis. He wants interlinking, backlinks and recent changes distributed across a network of blogs.
Another mental framework I stumbled on is that blogs link to the past and wikis link to the future. When I blog at PVRblog, I usually want to provide background on a post. For example, a post about EchoStar suing TiVo links to an earlier post about TiVo suing EchoStar.
Wikis are built around links to the future. In order to create a page, you have to link to that page first; you have to link to a page that doesn’t exist. Linking to a stub on the Wikipedia is a link to the future when that is a full page with good information.
I don’t think that a blog equivalent of a future link exists, but it could be powerful. I’ve been working with some people in Ypsilanti on their grassroots journalism project and one of the things that we’re looking to do is provide a way for people to request coverage of meetings. In a wiki you request a page by making a link to it and waiting, but there’s precious few ways to request that a blog that is connected to yours make a post about something. NowPublic tries to address that for grasssroots journalism. A way to distribute these requests over a network a blogs would allow conversations to evolve organically.