London Wiki Wednesdays is finally back! After a long hiatus, some of the core team got together for a drink last month, although I couldn't join them. Alek Lotoczko volunteered NYK Shipping (our regular fall back venue - Alek and NYK are firm and valued supporters of LWW) but with the short notice we couldn't do much promotion, or get any sponsorship. The guys asked me to carry on being MC, and Wednesday 7 October was our first official meeting. Before the session I wasn't sure if we would be able to sustain LWW as a monthly meeting - the whole reason for the hiatus was to do with the time it takes to get a venue and a sponsor each time.
At the session it became pretty clear that the consensus was to keep to our normal format of a discussion topic, followed by anyone who wants to speak getting 5 minutes on the wiki related topic of their choice, followed by up to 5 minutes of questions. On the day of the meeting I got a firm offer of sponsorship for the next meeting from ITBrix, and two other likely sponsorship candidates - one via Twitter in the middle of the meeting. So it looks like we will be holding London Wiki Wednesday meetings on the first Wednesdays of November, December and February. However, we are desperate for venues and more sponsorship. If you have a room that we can use for 30, 50, or 75 people, and/or up to £200 of your marketing budget to spare, we can give you some exposure and some link love.
You can see the dozen or so people who came to the meeting listed at the sign up page. I was hoping to See Euan Semple, but he was a late no show. We started with a discussion I suggested on Google Wave and Google Sidewiki. I wanted to see whether people think these are significant offerings or not, or whether they are part of a coherent Google plan to take over even more of the web. It became clear from the discussion that most people haven't touched Wave, and those that have managed to get a valid invite haven't had time to really give an opinion. That wasn't the case with Google Sidewiki, which got a universally negative response in the discussion. Sidewiki is effectively a side page for every page and website on the Internet accessed via the Google Toolbar. It has some wiki characteristics, in that anyone can add comments to it, but it's not like a wiki, because you can't edit the page like a wiki. Basically anyone can comment on your page. It's like Google is trying to take over all of the conversations of the web, which we all thought was pretty negative. If you own a blog, or a wiki site, obviously you want to allow comments, negative or positive because "all markets are conversations" and web 2.0 is all about that interactivity. However, you want to have the ability to remove anything that is a personal attack or offensive, or which is spam. Sidewiki doesn't allow you that kind of control. I likened it to owning a building. Google have just put up a billboard on the side and enabled the graffiti artists to come along and spray paint whatever they want on it. Most people seemed to think that Google hasn't really thought this strategy through. Sidewiki looks like an incubator product that has snuck out without much fanfare or thought, although with the power of Google behind it, it can always have the potential to be significant None of us can really see it living long, and the consensus was this is very definitely bad or a misstep.
I was first up on the individual speakers, talking about Susan Scrupski's 2.0 Adoption Council. I used Susan's intro slides to explain that it is a place for in-house professionals to collaborate and share their experience with adopting enterprise 2.0 tools and techniques in the enterprise. I also explained the 2.0 Adoption Council Community, that we (ITBrix) just launched with Susan last month using the WordFrame platform. This is a group blog, forum and collaboration space that pulls together content from any internal or external practitioners who want to join in and contribute to discussing 2.0 adoption. We already aggregate content from over 90 blogs, including most of the leading experts on the topic.
Harry Wood was next up talking about OpenStreetMap. Harry jokingly, but quite accurately described it as some "open, half-arsed, wannabee Google maps", but that's typical English self deprecation. This is a significant collaborative project like Wikipedia, with contributors adding functionality, and volunteers mapping the World and their local street steadily over time. I was delighted to hear that all of their servers are provided by and sited at UCL, my old university. This is an open project well worth some of your attention.
Last up was Proactive Paul Brannigan, talking about the way he uses wiki technology to help run his 5 person accounting practice. For a start it was good to meet another blogging accountant. Paul got interested in the wiki topic some years back when he attended PHP London and discovered they were using Pbwiki. He talked about setting up a web design agency in the late 90s alongside his accounting activities, developing sites in PHP and Perl. He started using Wordpress for his blog, and then some ZOHO applications. Eventually he decided to use DocuWiki on his own servers. The practice uses VT Software for accounts production, and 3 wikis for collaboration. One is for Paul's personal use, one is for his management team, and then one for everybody. All of their operational procedures and processes are on the wiki. It's great to hear a real life example of small business wiki us like this.
Although we only had 3 speakers, everyone got involved in the discussions. The consensus was that this was a great restart. Hopefully we can find a venue for next month's meeting, but if all else fails we will strain our NYK relationship a little more. And don't forget we need to find some more sponsors. (Note to self - when you bring a camera along, remember to take it out and use it!)
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