Blogs are blogs and wikis are wikis and never the twain….

Mike Caulfield, whose latest project, Wikity, brings to WordPress some features of federated wiki, asks whether an architecture that would allow data to flow seamlessly between blogs and wikis is a desirable thing.  In a comment, Kartik Agaram suggests that tagging makes blogs behave in a more wiki-like way.

To unpack this, I found it helpful to think all the way back to physical libraries. The whole notion of card catalogs and call numbers is a system designed to make physical objects findable. No matter how many cards referred to an item, the call number (a primary key, as it were) pointed to one spot on a shelf.  There has been a tendency to think of tagging as being fundamentally different because the artifacts are digital, but as Mike points out, the web is still location based, even if the locations are virtual.  Tagging merely allows, to extend the card catalog analogy, there to be a theoretically infinite number of “subject” cards for any given entity or entities under any given subject.

Given that the blog is clearly one person’s writing and thought, it makes more sense for it to have a single canonical address.  Wiki is more reference like and seems to lend itself better to Mike’s notion of connected copies, since the question of authorship is less important.

Now on to Mike’s actual question.  How valuable is it to be able to seamlessly move data across this divide?  I think the answer depends on how important you think the attribution chain is.  If it’s not important at all, just cut and paste.  If it is important, is it equally important in both contexts?

For the blog, some sort of attribution clarifies what is the author’s own thought versus what came from somewhere else.  However, when that somewhere else is a wiki, you deal with a source that is designed not to be static.  All of the web does that, in fact, which is why we have accessed on fields in web citations and everyone should love the Internet Archive Wayback Machine.  The vary malleability of a wiki page may lessen its value as a source. Would a wiki to blog bridge, like a fedwiki fork, pull the entire history of a wiki document up to the point of citation?  It’s with connected copies that this sort of link makes more sense. Even if the copy you originally cited has disappeared, you might find another.

Going the other direction, one expects a blog post, with it’s time and date stamp, to be a fixed oeuvre, so it makes more sense as a source or reference for a wiki document. It’s usually static nature also makes this process easier.

Having thought “aloud” through the use cases, I’m not in desperate need of a bridge. If reference by content grows in importance, it might make more sense.

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