September 18, 2006
Our Culture /

AndriusKulikauskas: Helmut, as you suggested, I'm moving discussion of our OurCulture wiki to an OurCultureWiki page at MeatBall wiki.

Older Thoughts

Here's a page for thinking through our vision of how we might best use ProWiki as a wiki engine supporting a variety of functions and technologies for the activity of the MinciuSodas laboratory and related networks.

I'm using the ProWiki engine for four different kinds of interfaces:

I'm realizing that by thinking of ourselves as technology evangelists we may arrive at a natural organization of ourselves in terms of large and small teams. Indeed, there is a need for a path by which a team can grow from a single person like Dr. Rod King's Fractal User Interface to an entire community such as Rick Nelson's SolaRoof or even Christopher Alexander's Pattern Language movement. And along the way the team grows complex and differentiates itself. We can help encourage this team building process. I think it helps to realize from the start that the teams are of very different sizes and at very different stages. Correspondingly, in each domain our knowledge grows and evolves. And it becomes more clear what kind of projects are relevant for each team and what kind of intercoordination is helpful.

This also suggests a "working-in-parallel" that will help us realize what expectations should we share so that we can truly support each other as independent thinkers. What are the values that make our technologies better than "neutral", that make them wholesome, that have them serve those who are ever marginalized? What is it about a technology, a methodology, an evangelism that opens our heart to include it? I think that, for example, it should encourage knowledge to be available to all so that all might engage it. What should we be able to expect? For example, I think that it's not helpful for us that Christopher Alexander has copyrighted the architectural patterns in his book "A Pattern Language" or that Edward de Bono has trademarked his "six thinking hats" methodology. And I personally think that a "copyleft" approach may, in many cases, be unhelpfully restrictive and inappropriately legalistic. But what should we work towards and how do we start with each technology? For example, Franz Nahrada and our friends in Kirchbach, Austria have decided strategically that at this time for video bridging we shouldn't wait for open source technologies to develop but we should make good use of existing proprietary hardware technologies and break ground in terms of usage. I understand and support this approach, but how do we make sense of it? How can we tell if a technology (whether it's nuclear power or giant windmills or Microsoft Excel or Skype or the Google search engine) is helping or hurting our vision of "global villages"? Or more practically, in what directions do we support Dr. Rod King's Fractal User Interface or Rick Nelson's SolaRoof or Christopher Alexander's Pattern Languages or KB5's Video Bridges? How do we work to help these all flourish as open technologies?

We'll want online tools that can match the simplicity and the complexity of our teams. I look forward to seeing a central role for Helmut Leitner's ProWiki as a wiki engine for our projects of various sizes. We're making a list at of our technologies. I want to see a way for us to adapt our wiki technology to projects of very different sizes for different kinds of readers and writers:

  • A) Creating "read only" pages using metadata that we keep at our wiki, as we are at: which makes use of data stored at
  • B) Having super simple "editable" pages that serve a very focused purpose, such as for an individual to write about themselves, or describe a project they are working on, or a book review, etc. These should not expect wiki mark-up or wiki links or much formatting in general. Instead I think there should be a form that people fill out, perhaps selecting a question and writing out the answer, and being able to have several questions and answers on a single page, yielding wiki pages and meta data. Links where applicable would be treated as metadata, as answers to questions. I would like this data to be updatable by email using the social ping system that we've discussed with Thomas Kalka.
  • C) Have a normal wiki for advanced users, but just a flat wiki for that particular project.
  • D) Have an advanced fractal wiki (as we've set up now) that (I foresee) is used primarily for moving and interrelating pages amongst various projects.
I think that most of this can be done with the existing ProWiki engine, it's a matter of us learning how to do this and perhaps creating B, perhaps as part of Thomas Kalka's system.

Thank you to all at Cyfranogi (John Waters, John Rogers, Jon Cousins, Samwel Kongere's interviews) who have been sharing stories about our "money minds". I'm very happy that these stories (vignettes, episodes, anecdotes) are capturing our first hand experiences. These are the types of knowledge that I'd like to see us contribute using the "simple editable pages" described in B. (Perhaps this is a use for transLucid and TheBrain and related "atomic" technologies?) I look forward to collecting more such first hand accounts regarding our "living space minds" (what makes a building alive), our "learning minds" (our learning styles and strategies). And what kinds of "minds" are relevant for sustainability, for alternative energy?

[17:24:11] ? On a side note, I'm working further on our lab's website and I'm interested to have a "simple editable page" technology [17:24:19] ? that would be for "single page" projects [17:24:44] Nancy White what is the difference between that and a wiki page? [17:24:45] minciusodas and would look like a form with some fields for free text and some for metadata and all fields could be thought of as answers to a question [17:24:55] Nancy White ah, so some structure [17:24:58] minciusodas So the point is that it would be easier to work with than a wiki page. [17:25:05] Nancy White to be useful to those not used to structuring a page [17:25:07] minciusodas Yes, less intimidating, much more structured. [17:25:13] ? Yes, it would not require any wiki social skills. [17:25:25] ? But perhaps the underyling page would be stored as a wiki and run by a wiki engine. [17:25:42] ? So it would be for wiki pages that may not use any formatting but may have some structure, metadata etc. [17:25:50] ? Have you run across that? [17:25:58] Nancy White interesting. So there could be an event form, a meeting notes form, etc?? [17:26:00] minciusodas I'm thinking of looking for sponsors who might like to see that built. [17:26:07] ? Yes it could be per object type. [17:26:11] Nancy White It reminds me of the templates built into PBWiki [17:26:14] minciusodas For example, to have a page for a person they could edit. [17:26:22] Nancy White (which are still a bit geeky for second wave adopters) [17:26:26] minciusodas Or a page for collecting a "first hand account". [17:27:05] ? I'm not quite sure how links would be handled best in such an environment. [17:27:12] ? But perhaps as metadata. [17:27:19] ? Or Wiki Words. [17:27:30] Nancy White interesting. Mille would take to that idea. [17:28:03] minciusodas The idea is to have people contribute to the system without being experts. But to have it all run by one wiki engine, we're using Helmut Leitner's ProWiki. So there would be four uses for the engine: [17:28:32] ? A) Store and output metadata as called for by web pages such as we're already doing at [17:29:34] ? B) "Single editable pages" for the most fundamental of purposes of data collection. This could also be interacted with through email. Thomas Kalka has thought through a social ping system where lurkers would get monthly questionnaires that they could respond to. Or they could trigger the questionnaires whenever they wanted to update their information. [17:30:01] ? C) These pages could sit within a simple flat wiki devoted to an isolated project. [17:30:17] ? D) The projects could sit within a fractal wiki that could be distributed across a variety of domains. [17:30:40] Nancy White I like the ping tghing on B. Helps keep the network a little more visible [17:30:42] minciusodas The latter would be for admins who move projects around for the best context. [17:31:03] ? Yes and B would help us in finding work which is why it's a priority. [17:31:44] ? Maybe Yahoo would be interested in sponsoring work especially on B because it would show the value in lurkers.

CoForum developments

Helmut: I think that CoForum offers quite a number of innovative features. I know ThomasKalka and have an active collaboration, e. g. with WikiNet, and we are discussing development issues every now and then. As an occasional contributor I'm also a user of CoForum and I'm aware of all developments and I intend to provide at least some of them in ProWiki when they are ready and there is enough need.

VideoBridge comments

Helmut: I think that "... have decided strategically that ... we shouldn't wait for open source technologies" is somewhat misleading. There has been no decision. The project has about 5-6 frontiers that must be advanced independently. There are many components that are proprietary, like e. g. camcorders. Other components like the transition from video signal to MPEG-encoded internet data stream are in OS reach but not ready-to-use. Currently proprietary SONY hardware is used for this, but this is not a decision, but a temporary situation out of a lack of alternatives. This can change any month or in a few years. Of course the VideoBridge project will not wait with building critical mass and creating sample content and know-how, until a specific component is available in OS.

workgroup growth

Helmut: I think that DorfWiki shows nicely how different Topics and WorkGroups can be supported in ProWiki, also in their growth from very small beginnings.


FranzNahrada: Fractal Wikis are supporting the "intimacy" of spaces also. It allows each and every individual and small group to follow their own special endavour within a larger context and to define Sub-rules.

information and discussion placement

Helmut: What I do see as a problem is the overall placement of knowledge and discussions. Usually they are put in the place at hand, where no-one will expect, seek or find them. The best example are my three contributions here. (1) CoForum collaboration should be better in a "technological development of ProWiki" or FeatureRequests section (2) explanation of VideoBridge should be at some subpage of DorfWiki:VideoBridge and referenced and (3) WorkGroup (or multi-project) support in a fractal ProWiki environment is also a topic that deserves a separate space, probably as part of standard documentation.

There are other topics touched. For example to support a community as complex as OurCulture one will suggest to use a MediaMix. Is this ProWikiCentre the best place to dicuss this? - Probably not. This should be either done in OurCulture itself, if it very specific, or in neutral spaces like MeatBall where such a discussion can attract people from different community that share the need and offer insights.

Helmut, thank you for your message to me at OurCulture. Yes, I think MeatballWiki is a good place for this and I will set up one or more pages there. --AndriusKulikauskas