Wiki:Authoring :: Perl:Programming

Ah, zee blogs…

So I’ve been away a bit, working on the college’s AT vision plan, which I wiki-ed out over a period of a week with some other folks.

That turns out to be interesting from a process standpoint…we did some marathon work on it the past two weeks, and presented it to an appropriate steering committee, and I think the initial perception might have been, given how far along we’d gotten it, that we had been working on it for months by ourselves. And in a shared-governance institution, that can be a problem.

In other words moving too fast and having a working document too early is a very suspicious thing.

We corrected that assumption, but it highlighted a couple things for me:

1. Wikis really do accelerate collaboration, and they do so because they recognize that if you can roll anything back you can avoid having interminable layers of approval in front of decisions. The default mode of Web 2.0, and the new world of media in general, is if it can be undone, don’t put a dam in front of it.

2. Both the speed and the attitude associated with this method can be jarring to organizations. I think it’s similar to what happened in programming when compile time came down and run-time languages came into their own. There was a period where the organization surrounding the tools lived in a state of cognitive dissonance. If you’ve ever seen someone make a state change diagram or Yourdon chart for something pulling data from a db and throwing it into a skin, then you know what I mean.

3. But change is inevitable. When it comes to their methods, programmers are some of the most religious people on the planet. Yet the industry changed. Sure, there are still some places you’ll find people putting a three month design process before the first script is run, but this has become the exception. And lightweight methodologies like Extreme Programming are no longer seen as fringe methods used by “sloppy” programmers (and heck, it only took a decade, right?).

My point? I guess it’s the title. Wiki is to Authoring as Perl is to Programming. (or Python, or VB, or Swing, or MUMPS: no need for a holy war…).

Of course, I’m sure someone has already said this… I was just struck by how much the moment we are in re: wikis matches a cultural moment we were in programming a number of years back….

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2 Comments on “Wiki:Authoring :: Perl:Programming”

  1. … all of which of course makes me think of wiki coding. Put the Perl into a wiki, allow people to make changes. Set it up for testing where the code runs on a virtual machine, so there’s no risk. Let one page ‘include’ another page as Perl modules, for larger programs (and to ensure compatibility).

  2. Mike says:

    I wonder — there’s a community thing going on with automation scripts (the IBM project CoScripter is a wiki driven community I believe: http://services.alphaworks.ibm.com/coscripter).

    But it is surprising that there aren’t more prominent scripting wikis — and maybe the system you describe would get us there — if editing your script and posting it in the wiki were the same thing, and if you inherited a great environment by doing it that way —


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