What’s in a wiki? Wikis are the epitome of Web 2.0. They’re interactive, generative, collaborative spaces of commons-based peer production that are heterarchical rather than hierarchical. They disperse the means and process of meaning production across multiple contributors. The wiki represents a stark departure from textual/digital plat/forms in which readers are “limited to passive viewing of content” (“Web 2.0”). In a wiki, readers become writers.
I’m fascinated by wikis.
I first started thinking about wikis as textual tools when a Professor in my graduate program at Ohio University, Albert Rouzie, asked our new media course to create an assignment that engaged composition students with digital and multimodal work. The assignment I came up with seemed simple: ask students to contribute to Wikipedia. In the four years that followed the creation of this assignment, I’ve done a tremendous amount of reading about and teaching with Wikipedia. I’ve learned how this kind of highly contextualized and rhetorically-rich writing can help motivate students both to write and to learn about writing. (You can read more on this in an interview DRC Fellow Lindsey Harding conducted with Robert Cummings.) I’ve also figured out that wikis (and Wikipedia) are not nearly as simple as I once thought. These writing technologies have the power to change our ideas about writing, authorship, collaboration, as well as to help us build knowledge together and make it freely available for others.
I see the same kind of power and opportunity in this community-website, the Digital Rhetoric Collaborative. The DRC brings people with shared interests in digital rhetorics together, but also helps to build and sustain disciplinary knowledge through a number of ongoing projects, including, yes, our own wiki. The DRC wiki is a project devoted to developing a “compendium of information and wisdom about digital rhetoric, computers and writing, and their digital relations near and far.”
It’s also a project I’m going to be devoting a lot of energy to during my time as a Graduate Fellow here. I have some specific goals for the wiki. I want to spread awareness of this resource and encourage more contributions among the community. I think we can do this through an active social media campaign, soliciting contributions, and by working out a system of authorship in which author’s contributions are tagged, so contributors get visible credit for their work. This last idea, along with some other great suggestions, emerged from a Roundtable Discussion “Reimagining the Wiki” at C&W 2014, one which I didn’t get to take part in but that I know will continue to influence our development of the wiki this year. In working to strengthen the number of contributors, we’ll also be improving its content coverage. In addition to this, I’ll also be helping to continue the “Wiki Wednesday” series (begun by Fellow Brenta Blevins) to celebrate wiki technology and the opportunities it provides for both teaching and building disciplinary knowledge. This series will feature lesson plans, assignments, interviews, and updates on DRC wiki iniatives. Finally, I want to continue the dialogue started by DRC Fellows last year. What should an “academic wiki” look like and how can we make that happen? I’m excited to find out! In the meantime, find out how to become a DRC Wiki Editor and to become a Friend of the DRC Wiki.