Why this wiki
I have become unsatisfied with keeping my notes and ideas within the structure provided by modern media. I often have ideas on themes in my life that I might have written on a "note to self" before. If it was really important, I put a reminder in my calendar to work on it later. If it was a lot of information or writing, I might have written it in a file and stored it under an appropriate hierarchy of folders in one of my hard disks.
Allowing other people to see my wiki I initially thought a fringe benefit. But once I realized people might actually read this wiki, I started writing intentionally for a wide audience. When I think of something I'd like to share, this is a better forum for complicated or timeless ideas than Facebook, Twitter, Friendster, Myspace. Thinking of that wide audience, I maybe censored myself at the same time. For example, when I first started the wiki I was thinking of a nice hypertext guide to people I know, but then I realized most people would probably not like to have a public profile not under their control.
Examples of reasons to use a wiki
- I can keep track of shopping ideas, so I can look for a good price or think about a purchase instead of impulsively buying it. See Category:Shopping.
- I can write and update guides for myself and others. See Category:Recipes | Winterizing a house | Install a new HD in a 68k Mac.
- I can annotate links to other sites on the web.
- If people like my content, and then they see an ad that leads to a page they want to visit, I might get ad revenue.
- It's great for writing and editing papers, including outlines and endnotes. It makes bibliographies automatically, although not as well as desktop publishing systems. It's better than desktop publishing systems at tracking every change.
- Other people can contribute to many pages, and can leave comments in the discussion page for any page. The wiki software fortunately allows me to block spammy IPs from editing pages, and roll back spammy edits when they're made.
- MediaWiki is the platform used by Wikipedia, so it is updated and robust enough for one of the most popular and permanent destinations on the web. Open source, yet I don't have to do any programming to enjoy the benefits.
Problems with other forms
- Notebooks aren't easily searchable.
- Files can't have update-able links between each other.
- Notebooks and hard drives can be destroyed or stolen.
- I may not always have access to a word processor or even a notebook.
Limitations of Wiki
- The contents of a wiki are not as summarily viewed as is a shelf of books. But you can see all the pages or all the categories:Special:AllPages | Special:Categories.
- Free-floating ideas can still be overlooked.
- Good ideas can seemingly be erased when edited from a page.
- We can insert new drawings into pages, using SVG.