12.07.2005

blogger hard crashed both machines yesterday -- booooo -- so I forgot was i was going to post

Last night I thought, wouldn't the old, combative POETICS list have made a good poetics wiki, and what if we made a POETICS wiki? But one with strong moderation or editing would be required.

Rather than a list, it would be more of a topical multi-threaded discussion, and when the discussion was getting very heated on "lutheran surrealism" or whatever, uninterested parties could go over to the "syntax" area. But, humorously, when discussion was getting very heated on a topic, that particular page would be continually edited and re-edited until it didn't exist.

So, here is my explanation:

A listserv is a software application where e-mails sent to a single address are 1) sent to e-mail addresses on a list, 2) archived on a server, 3) sorted and searchable in that archive (generally by date, author, and topic). In topic threads, users may elect to quote previous posts for context.

A discussion database is one where an e-mail is sent in or a web page is made in the database, and then people can e-mail in or compose in place web pages which are "replies" or "children" of the original posting or page "parent". These are generally sortable more flexibly, and topics can branch, and be expanded and collapsed, so you can see parts of a "discussion thread" or not. Users may elect to link to related pages; certain users may be allowed to edit the work of others. Users can elect to be notified when something is contributed on one topic and not another. A blog with lots of comment activity is generally like an inflexible discussion database with a "strong administrator".

A blog is originally organized like a journal, according to date, although you can get clever on it and have it look like a book with a table of contents, but I'll spare you -- you can write software around all this software that will make it act like other software just like you can have a string quartet and then hire a horn section but never really get an orchestra out of it. A multiblog where all the people participating have editing privileges is sort of like a blog being used as a wiki, with shortcomings, as Joel mentioned, like the archiving / version control problem.

A wiki is a database where a web page is made in the database, and anyone registered can make a page or edit another page. Links to related pages, or pages that will eventually exist and be related ("stumps") are especially valuable in a wiki. The problem of the imaginary ye olde POETICS liste is one that remains: some will edit the work of others rather than adding to the general wiki or merely offering a competing view or opinion.

One problem of the old poetics list a wiki solves, though, is bandwidth, capacity, and attention -- in that one may visit other areas when a single topic is getting bogged down in minutiae. And, perhaps, in the utopian vision of a wiki, that certain topics will be reduced to ashes is a fine thing, because the archive is always there.

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