Wikis are Standard fare for technology conferences — and what's hot with tech companies tends to spread fast. A wiki is a Web site that lets users easily add, edit, or remove content. While a blog is made to broadcast the thoughts of one or a few people, wikis are intended for collaborative authoring. Think of it as a shared online workspace.
From a meeting perspective, wikis are being used both as a planning tool and, more visibly, as a forum for attendees to network and share ideas on the content before, during, and after an event. When the events team at Novell Inc. went looking for “a more hip, up-to-date venue for getting information out about BrainShare,” they turned to a wiki, says director of marketing/events Mike Morgan. BrainShare is Novell's major annual conference for customers, partners, and employees, and sharing ideas and building community is a key part of its success.
The BrainShare wiki has been around for a year and is an offshoot of Novell's company wiki, which has been up for about three years, Morgan says. It includes five sections relating to the 2007 conference, which took place in March, and past events: 2007 important information (links to the conference's social networking site, links to replays of conference speakers, tips on getting more out of the event, etc.), 2007 fun stuff (conference pictures, links to conference-related blogs, etc.); past years' fun stuff; Novell links; and future BrainShare dates. (View it at http://wiki.novell.com/index.php/BrainShare.)
“At every tech event that we participate in nowadays, wikis have become a key component,” says Jeff Brainard, director of marketing for Socialtext, an enterprise wiki tool that launched in 2003. While most clients use wikis to build collaboration among product development teams, or to create communities among users, or to provide employees with news updates, he says, meetings are also a good fit. Groups have used wikis before meetings to discuss content and begin networking; during the conference to extend participation, answer questions, and keep a calendar of official and unofficial events; and afterward as a powerful archive and resource center. For a look at the wiki for the Web 2.0 Expo powered by SocialText, go to www.socialtext.net/web2wiki/index.cgi.
Some of the best-known enterprise wiki providers include:
ATLASSIAN | atlassian.com
CUSTOMERVISION | customervision.com
NEAR-TIME | near-time.net
SOCIALTEXT | socialtext.com
TRACTION | tractionsoftware.com
TWIKI | twiki.org