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Just One Question for Bill Seitz
Feb 26, 2002 :: Michael Sippey

Forgive us for avoiding the topic-du-jour, but we don't have much to add to the debate on whether "blogging is journalism," or whether the New York Times got it right. (Frankly, we're a mess of contradictions -- we'd answer "no" and "yes" to those questions if pressed.) Instead, we're trying to train what's left of our shattered ability to focus on what people are actually doing with their weblogs.

Or, in Bill Seitz's case, what he's doing with his Wiki.

While StO remains mired in the "essay" format, we've also been known to abuse both the weblog form (back before the term was around, mind you) and the collaborative, hypertextual and InterCapped mindset of the Wiki. So when we came across Bill Seitz's latest iteration on the weblog/wiki form (probably via some weblog link), we stood up, took notice, and felt compelled to ask him just one question...

StO: Why have you abandoned the standard weblog form for a Wiki?

Seitz: While my WebLog started for me in 1998 as a pass-along activity ("this is cool", "this is insanely stupid"), it became more of a combination of "active reading" (selecting pullquotes is the equivalent of highliting, which I do obsessively) and "making sense of the world", both of which are BrainTraining. JornBarger's thoughts on a PersonalWebArchive reinforced this for me.

I had always been interested in the "thought processor" software space (BillSeitzWritingToolHistory), but most of the interesting associative tools felt too "closed". So I was thrilled with I discovered WiKi in 1999, as it felt like a "safe" HyperText / PIM system. I quickly started thinking about the idea of using wiki for a WikiWeblog, so that chunks could be associated over time; but I didn't do anything about it.

During 2001 there were 2 events which significantly increased my frustration with the disposability of blogbits. The announcement of MicroSoft's PassPort and HailStorm initiatives seemed to warrant some actual design activity, as criticism without a viable alternative would not be likely to slow PassPort adoption. But blogging seems a poor medium for directed activity. Likewise, September 11th led me to blog a lot about DealingWithTerrorism while protecting our liberty, but I had difficulty tracking all the threads of issues over time. So I finally got working on putting up a wiki.

But I knew that I couldn't continue writing in 2 tools at the same time without going nuts, so I put more time into figuring out how I'd like to put blog items into wiki, and how I'd like to present them, while creating "standard" wiki pages at the same time (ThinkingSpace).

Thanks to the excellent work SimonMichael had done on the ZoPe-based ZWiki I was using, I was able to come up with a model requiring minimal programming changes (e.g. a hack). So a few weeks ago I started doing my blogging in wiki, and am a much happier camper. Sometimes blog events refer to an ongoing interest in a wiki page, other times blog "events" trigger a brand new wiki node. In either case a wiki node can lead me back easily to all the blog bits that refer to it (via BackLinks). I'm not making much more sense yet, but I feel like I'm getting the scaffolding in place.



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