This evening, I headed over to The Werks to hear Stewart Mader, author of Wiki Patterns, talk about using a wiki successfully within a work environment.

I have been using TiddlyWiki to collaborate on a project level for about a year or so now - and the most recent project has probably been the most successful to date as we've sent each other links to wiki pages, both frequently updated pages as more information is uncovered, and used it as a central point. I was interested to find out how I can use a wiki more, and more effectively. I was hoping for some organisation strategies and tips, but that wasn't really what the evening was about so I will have to do some research myself on that.

Stewart was a really engaging speaker, and is obviously passionate about his subject. He had some really good uses for a wiki which I'd not thought of but actually make a whole lot of sense - things like meeting agendas. His example was that you write up an agenda and email it out to the attendees. You get three replies asking for changes to that agenda - someone wants an item removed and two others want items added. So now as the meeting organiser you've got 3 changes to make, and then you have to send it out again. As he said, you can almost guarantee that someone will have already printed out the agenda before the revised version is sent out and so will end up at the meeting with an out of date version. Instead, if you put your agenda on a wiki, then every attendee can check it out, and make changes as appropriate. During the meeting minutes can be typed into the wiki directly if it is a laptop friendly meeting by any or all attendees. So, the whole process immediately is a lot more collaborative.

During the Q&A session someone mentioned using google docs as a more collaborative mechanism for documents. As Steward pointed out this isn't the same thing as a wiki, and he is also concerned that google docs is quite geeky. He mentioned Buzzword as a less geeky, more UI friendly alternative - so I'm off to have a look at that.

We also discussed enterprise wiki tools, and the following were mentioned as being worth a look

In summary, a great talk, which resulted in me adding lots of "consider a wiki for x" tasks to my remember the milk task list to give some thought to when and where a wiki would be a benefit in my working life