Should We Replace Our Intranet?

Well, maybe not yet, but it might be something to consider. Some companies have found that a blog or a wiki (or both!) serve their needs better, and they have replaced their Intranets. Darlene Fichter
of the University of Saskatchewan Library in Saskatoon gave a good outline of blogs and wikis in her presentation, “Fostering Collaboration With Wikis and Weblogs”. (Do you know where Saskatchewan is? My wife is a native of its capital city (What’s it called–a good question for a search engine), and when our son was born the people gathering the information for his birth certificate had never heard of it!)

The easiest way to think of blogs and wikis is to consider a blog as a personal Web publishing communication platform, and a wiki as a freely editable discussion. Darlene mentioned a recent survey of 250 companies, of which 90% were using a blog or planning to use one. Some of the uses of blogs included knowledge sharing, internal communication, project management, personal knowledge management, event logging, and team management. Some of those users found that the blog improved communication to the point that they replaced e-mail!

The Ann Arbor, MI public library has a blog and has found it to be quite successful. People are communicating (both library staff and users), and even the Library Director is blogging! Some library applications of blogs are posting common reference desk questions, status reports on the internal network, technical information questions, team and department or project committee communications.

Potential wiki applications include meeting notes, a repository of shared knowledge, collaborative writing, and training course communications. Many people are afraid of the free-flowing nature of a wiki, but some wiki software platforms allow limiting this capability; others provide for roll backs, viewing of editing history, and a recent changes page.

Darlene recommended an article by Emma Tonkin, “Making the Case For Wiki”, which provides an introduction to wikis and an excellent comparison chart of wiki software.

Don Hawkins
Columnist, Information Today

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