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news and thoughts on and around the development of the iCite net
by Jay Fienberg

The voices of wikis and weblogs

posted: Jun 3, 2003 2:41:16 PM

Ross Mayfield posted a good piece on Group Voice (also posted on Corante). I came across this via Marc Canter's Socialtext coming around the bend.

I think Ross' piece is written in response to Dave Winer's recent What makes a weblog a weblog?, which I have been meaning to recommend. Dave's piece has stimulated a number of posts in response, of which I believe Ross' is one.

Ross talks about the group voice of wiki, comparing it with the personal / individual voice of weblogs. He makes the point that these are complimentary tools / media then.

From my own experience, I would add online discussion forums as another media for group voice. But, I think each tool / medium (wiki, blog, forum) has boundaries that both focus how it is used (usually in a good way) and prevent desired interactions (often in a bad way).

In other words, people do things in blogs that they don't do in wiki, and people do things in wiki that they don't do in forums, etc., but there are times when you are in wiki and you want to do something like a blog, or you are in a forum and you want to do something like a wiki, etc.

Ross mentions Socialtext's software that combines wiki and blogs, and I think this is good indication of what many of us feel needs to come next—namely, a way to use the boundaries of each medium more creatively so that they keep or increase their focus while enabling or enhancing other kinds of social or collaborative interactions, or personal expressions.

I posted the other day on iCites as a way of being social online and commented on wiki and blogs along these lines. With iCites, besides blogs, wiki, and forums, websites in general can be looked at as part of the "voice" of conversations.

This is actually part of how the name iCite came about, as in "I cite". Part of what people say, both in individual voice and group voice, is "someone else says . . ." or "some document says . . ". This blog entry contains several citations along these lines, and the blogs / websites cited each, themselves, cite other resources, etc.

With iCites, what you say yourself is also a citation, like "I say . . .", and it is pre-packaged so others can easily cite you.

All of this is to say that blogs, wiki, forums, and websites are distinct, but they all have something in common with iCites. What I hope iCites will enable then is one common interface between these distinct tools / media. And, that interface is only a little more than links, so it uses are super malleable.

I think wiki iCites will still be like wiki, blog iCites will still be like blogs, forum iCites will still be like forums, and website iCites will still be like websites. But, as iCites they will be of the same building blocks (i.e., links and the packages of information linked to) and can be combined and built into new things.

Socially, in terms of our voices, I think this will enable a kind of "body language" for our online bodies.

Whatever we say in our own voice, we need to be able to better express our transitions between personal statements and formal statements and conversations in a group and collaborative communication and, in all of it, how we are using our "sources", whether of information or of inspiration.

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Comment by: Ross Mayfield ·
posted: Jun 5, 2003 9:25:22 AM

Discussion boards are still about individual voices, just in one place. The form doesnt work to bring harmony.

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