September 25, 2008
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WikiSym: Collaboration and its Discontents

Is collaboration inherently good? Is openness always a virtue? These were the questions at WikiWalk.

José Victor Malneiros, the newspaper writer says: information is power. It's all about information: who has it? And who knows how to use it?

Lúcia Matos, the architect, observes that Porto itself arises from the intersection of forces: the old Roman road running North and South, and the River Douro running East and West. Porto is not at the mouth of the Douro; it's at the final ford before the river runs down to the sea. Two streams of commerce and information intersect, but do not mix.

One strain of the wiki world assumes that collaboration is its own reward, that more hands leads to better work.

The other strain of the wiki world would like to view this (like any other proposition) as a question to be measured, examined, facilitated where help provides benefit, restrained where it proves harmful.

One faction assumes that, if you build it and gain support and participation, then widespread participation will yield a better wiki. They are often disappointed, but they still believe. One faction worries that, if everyone comes, the noise and haste will eventually create chaos. They are often surprised when things work.

Everyone points to Wikipedia as proof of the validity of the expectations.