[A version of this post was cross-posted on RexBlog]
Yesterday, Wikipedia added the “ePUB” file format as an export option for collections of Wikipedia articles you want to compile. This may not sound like something new, as the ability to compile — and even order a print-on-demand version of — such a collection of articles has been around for a while.
What makes this new feature significant is that ePUB is a format optimized for display using all the major ebook reader devices or apps (Kindle, Apple iBooks, Google Books, Nook, etc.). While PDFs of such articles were readable on such devices or apps, the ePUB format will provide you with a document that is more book-like.
Until they heard of the controversial website WikiLeaks, many people thought the word “wiki” and the website Wikipedia were synonymous.
Today, there are countless wikis, many built using the same approaches and software used by Wikipedia. SmallBusiness.com, a wiki created and managed by Hammock, is one of them. Other wikis use different software, different approaches and are so different looking from Wikipedia, you may not even realize they’re wikis. (Ironically, there’s nothing about the software or approach used by the website WikiLeaks that is a wiki as popularly defined.)
[Photo credit: zordroyd/Flickr via Wiki-Commons]
As many people know, Hammock Inc. is the developer of the wiki project, SmallBusiness.com.*
What you may not know is that my title on SmallBusiness.com is “Head Helper.” Being head helper for a project as big and complex as a 20,000-entry (and growing daily) wiki running on the same software platform used by Wikipedia has given me a few years of knowledge that is limited to a rather small group of people. (And, as I’ve attended one, I can even tell you where you’d find them.)
While Hammock is likely the only custom media and content marketing firm to create and grow such a large-scale wiki project as SmallBusiness.com, I predict others will enter the field as companies and associations become more aware of the hidden magic of the wiki platform. To be honest, if for no other reason than trying to figure out why Wikipedia shows up on the first results page of nearly any Google search, I’d be spending time trying to understand everything there is to know about Wikipedia, even if I wasn’t a wikimaniac.
Here are, in no particular order, some of the most important things you should know about wikis – straight from an official wiki “head-helper”:
[Part 2 of a Series: See: Introduction. See: Links to other posts in this series.]
The subject line of this post is a bit misleading. There is no one wiki entry that will teach you every thing you need to know about research content. Fortunately, you can pick almost any entry on a well organized and managed encyclopedia-model wiki to learn what I’m about to explain. Typically, I’d use a page from SmallBusiness.com, as many of my theories about research content have come while spending hundreds of evening and weekend hours structuring it and learning what works and doesn’t by serving as “head-helper” to people who’d like to add content to it — or who can’t find something they’re looking for.
However, I’ve decided to use the Wikipedia entry Metal umlaut as the example for today’s “lesson.” If you’re curious why, it’s because many years ago, Jon Udell used this entry’s history to demonstrate what a screencast is. Also, after the first draft, I felt this post needed more cowbell.
So here’s what you can learn from a well-done wiki entry about the elements needed in great “research” content:
The following are links to a series of posts written by Hammock founder Rex Hammock in which he explores the various kinds of content that is being used by companies, associations, and other organizations and institutions to build stronger relationships with their customers, members, etc.
The posts also examine ways in which different types of content and different communications channels and platforms can work independently or in a complementary, integrated fashion to help companies reach specific business objectives.
[See also: Table of Contents for this series.]
Over the coming months, I will be writing a series of posts that focus on the role of “content” in how companies and customers connect with one-another. (Of course, when I say “companies,” I also mean associations and governments and churches and schools and candidates. And when I say “customers,” I also mean members and alumni and supporters, etc.) But first, I thought I’d provide an introduction.
If you’ve been around Rex, you know he’s passionate about wikis. Actually, he’s obsessed. Perhaps that comes from spending a couple of years developingSmallBusiness.com, one of the largest business-oriented wikis and the largest user-generated, wiki-model small business resource on the web.
Rex has decided to go public with his obsession. When he spoke at Barcamp Nashville recently about wikis, the crowd got energized when Rex started evangelizing. While we’re sure it can’t capture the full experience of the presentation (Rex doesn’t really do the bullet point thing), here is an annotated version of his presentation.
Just like you wouldn’t build a house without a blueprint, you don’t want to build a website without a wireframe. Whether you’re building an entire site from scratch or just adding on a new page or section, wireframes are a big help to the design team as well as the site developers.
What wireframes do
Essentially, wireframes are the blueprints for your site. They tell the people building the architecture of the site what sections will go where to give them get an idea of what they will have to code, and they give the designers an overview of how the different pages will work together, which is helpful in choosing design elements.
Hammock Inc. runs SmallBusiness.com, a wiki-based site designed to connect small business owners and their expertise with others. The site covers any topic related to running a small business, and the wiki format lets small business owners contribute their knowledge to the community, as well as learn from the expertise of others.
A long-time feature of SmallBusiness.com has taken on renewed importance recently. We’ve had a small business news wire on the site for some time — we tag the day’s biggest headlines for small business and pull them onto the site. It makes SmallBusiness.com a one-stop shop for small business news and information.
We also offer those headlines via Twitter and RSS. Recently, as businesses large and small have focused intently on the daily economic news, the SmallBusiness.com News Wire has given small business owners an easy way to keep up with the latest financial events that may affect their businesses.
Funny name, useful application
We spend a lot of time at Hammock trying out different web applications and related software. Some of us are geeks, so we think that’s fun. But we also want to stay on top of the latest trends for our clients.
We’re long-time wiki fans, but we know that this kind of content management system isn’t as popular as it ought to be. A number of prominent wiki sites (like, say, Wikipedia) don’t make it as easy to contribute as they could, so we suspect a lot of people dismiss wikis out of hand.
But, wikis don’t have to be hard. (And I’ll throw in on a personal note, they don’t have to be ugly, either.) If you’re in one of the situations below, you should be considering a wiki: