Web 2.0 and trusting the users

The CTO Project makes an interesting observation that faculty are a bit like some corporations. They feel obligated to use Web 2.0 technologies in order to engage student interest and actually make some token effort to be up to date. But that they only want these technologies if they can exert complete control.

Trust me, I can relate. We’re currently contracting with a part of the government that wants to do something similar. They want to make use of the knowledge of a number of experts to produce an encyclopedia of a given technology. Of course, this has been dubbed the FOOpedia (where FOO is the technology).

In the first phase, they laid out an outline of the field. There were to be top level items that only they could edit, secondary items which would be owned by specific individuals and third level items which would be links to support documentation like powerpoint slides and papers. Control of the site was to be pretty restricted, but they did know that they wanted to use a wiki.

Kill me now.

So, in working with them for a bit, I think we’ve talked them out of the rigidly structured, top-down, hierarchical encyclopedia and have gotten them to embrace something a bit more organic.  They’re still not comfortable with a completely open system.  We’re looking at a model comparable to Scholarpedia or Citizendium where there’s a person responsible for each article and he or she will have the final editorial say over that topic.  But at least we’re no longer trying to define all of the pages in advance.  I’ll call it a win.

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