Building a Pseudo-Wiki on Tumblr

At the heart of wiki is a simple idea that names matter. Page names in wiki are not locations. They aren’t a place where a document lives. Names identify ideas, patterns, theories, and data in wiki that can be recombined with other ideas, patterns, theories, and data to make complex meaning not expressible in a normal text.

If you’ve ever had a good wiki experience, you know what this feels like in practice. Groping towards an idea on one page you realize its relation to another page and quickly make a [[Bracketed Link]] or CamelCaseAssociation to pull that idea into your web. But most non-wiki environments frustrate this fluidity. They don’t want to know the name of the page — they want to know its location, which is like asking someone to give up using variables in their code and start addressing memory directly. It can be done, but it is going to kill your flow.

What’s more, these frustrate one of the crucial features of wiki practice: they don’t let you link to pages that don’t exist yet.

Recently I found a way to abuse Tumblr tagging to get wiki-like linking in Tumblr. It’s not quite wiki, but it’s worth exploring as a productive abuse of Tumblr and as an experiment on thinking about the coming merge of blog and wiki. Details in video below.

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