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July 25, 2015

Federated Wiki is new and confusing to me

I've been playing with Wikis now for 14 years. I bought Ward Cunningham's 2001 book on Wikis. I can't remember now if I set up a Wiki while I was still at CNN in 2001 or whether it was 2002, but I know when I went to EarthLink I set up one of the the first Wikis there.

The canonical Wiki site was Cunningham's C2 Wiki, which I've poked around in occasionally. The last time I visited, I noticed that the site had stop allowing edits in Feburary 2015 because Cunningham was had rewritten the original Wiki software. Cunningham announced "a complete rewrite of wiki as a single page application with a distributed database which will last us for at least 20 years, maybe 200. " The result is known as the Federated Wiki.

The original Wiki was brilliant in it's simplicity and power. Anyone can edit and improve anything, and the result is there for all to see and benefit from.

Federated Wiki (also known as Smallest Federated Wiki, or SFW) is much harder for me to wrap my head around. Part of the inspiration seems to come from Git and the ability to fork anything: it's easy to fork any page on someone else's Federated Wiki and put that page on your own SFW. In theory it's easy for the owner of the original page to see who forked the page and to incorporate changes if they want to, but in practice, I don't see how you get the same collaborative synergy that resulted in the original C2 wiki.

Anyway. I'm playing with my own copy of SFW. I don't expect to do a lot with it, but we'll see.