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2005-06-22

Making Wiki's Conversational: Get the RSS Right

GTDWikiDiscussion.  I have been frustrated by the ways that wikis provide RSS feeds.  These are basically announcements of the fact of change, but there are no changes.  Furthermore, the announcement is something like

orcmid made 5 changes, jeff made 3, and jake deleted everything on page GimbleFribbitCamelCase

That doesn’t work for me.  It’s like content-free voicemail messages that just tell me someone else called or that they want me to call them and there’s nothing conversational about it.  It is the absence of conversational structure that dawned on me and led to this comment in sideways-response to a question from Jeff Sandquist:

The wiki RSS feeds that are basically little announcements that edits have occured are useless. I want content in the RSS! It might be anytime there is a fresh series ending in a stable edit (to counter-act for people like me who edit and revise and edit in rapid succession until it all looks good-enough-for-now). I can always get the diffs in the wiki. But seeing recent resulting content really helps me in deciding whether or not I want to actually come and look, or even have something to say about it. So here's a killer addition to making wiki's conversational and allowing people to keep an eye on the activity without having to come over here and figure out what happened lately. There's probably some way to tie this into an alert system too, but I don't want to think about it any further now.  Also, while the whole page might be good, micro-content might be useful too, for wikis that have micro-content.

There just needs to be a way to weave in and out of the conversation that a wiki collaboration is, and that means not only knowing that someone else has spoken, but what they have said before choosing to divert one’s attention to the wiki itself.  I can drag the feed note (in Outlook via NewsGator for me) into a GTD item or something that makes a synch point between my asynchronous life and whatever is coinciding on the wiki.

I figure this is already being thought about by someone somewhere, but I haven’t run across it and in the mood to speak up.

 
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