It’s hard not to get excited by some of the recent developments with MediaWiki lately. I finally started to wake up to the potential when Andy Rush blogged about a nifty online video extension, and all the other third-party extensions that are coming out. There was some great discussion of what MediaWiki could do during Northern Voice, and I came out of the conference very excited about our own plans for a set of WikiFarms on a powerful hosting environment we are hoping to launch next month.
Then this morning I looked in on the Commonwealth of Learning’s project at WikiEducator.org — it’s really come some ways since I last checked it out. These tutorials (open license, naturally) are going to be very useful, and they’re in a format that will make them a snap to customise for our own context. We’ll just have to create some content they can use as well so we’re not total parasites…
And just a few minutes ago David Wiley posts on Send2Wiki, which allows you to move any content on a webpage into a formatted MediaWiki page with a single click of a bookmarklet. Once it’s there, the text is totally wikified. Narcissist that I am, I tested it out with one of my blog posts and after about ten seconds of clean-up ended up with a pretty nifty result. David says that the “goal of the project is to make it really, really easy for people to reuse and adapt open content. Does it do that?” — Um, YEAH!
Oh, and do check out David’s recent foray into speculative fiction — 2005-2010: The OpenCourseWars, a very fun way to learn about the big issues around open educational content.
Seeing something like Send2Wiki just reinforces my bemusement that apparently “serious” content reuse revolves around creating repositories or collections — when it seems more and more obvious it’s about open licenses and good decisions on tools and formats. Scott Leslie summed it up beautifully, even if he failed to do so with appropriate pirate lingo:
… there is NO reason (as we will see in the next example too) to ever provide another list, another calendar, another set of links, etc, in a way that by default traps the content in a single presentation, only ever editable by a single author. NO REASON, and lots of GOOD reasons not to. The separation of content and presentation should have already become one of the default criteria you use to select any technology. If the tools you are using don’t support RSS or some other means to do this, use one of the HUNDREDS of FREE ones that do. And at the very least, please adopt tools that produce proper XHTML – accessibility means providing access, and if you won’t do it to cater to web wonks like me, do it at least to serve people who have no other choice but to consume your page through a text reader or other assistive device. If you don’t, someday someone may make you.
Maybe make you do it with a baseball bat, if you catch my drift… I’m just sayin’.