Thursday, 3 July 2008


Wikis are great because while they allow you to add information to existing content like tagging does but they also allow to create and upload new information to web pages.

Many people are already familiar with wikis, perhaps through using wikipedia but to clarify the dictionary definition of a wiki is that it is "a type of web page designed so that its content can be edited by anyone who accesses it." As wikipedia has shown this technology is a great help to any collaborative working project and the concept seems to suit an encyclopedia format and there is an archival equivilant of wikipedia called archivopedia. For archivists it has also been used for professional purposes at some conferences, where it allows many attendees to comment on particular presentations or provide information about the location.

The most exciting aspect of using wikis in an archive is that it can allow an organisation to formally capture user knowledge about their collections in a way that can compliment existing official finding tools. At present, archival repository wikis are not as popular as blogs but there are some good examples out there. The TNA in particular has been very willing to engage with new technologies when developing its Your Archives wiki, which was "designed to allow users to contribute their own knowledge of the National Archives’ collections in an open forum."

Your Archives has lots of information about how to use the wiki and also suggestions about what kind of information users could contribute such as transcriptions of documents available on the DocumentsOnline resource, expanding existing catalogue entries and editing research guides. It is also made very clear that the TNA will not check and verify entries, instead it is up to the wiki community to report offensive or incorrect entries. This helps address the issue of whether to trust information published in a wiki and also builds on the general principle that information is published and wikis are built on a notion of trust and self-regulation.

Other examples of wikis for archives include:

Archivists can also consider working with existing wikis, such as Wikipedia and linking to their resources from relevant articles on certain subjects. For example, if you have a collection of papers from a particular person why not add a link to that person's Wikipedia article to your archive? An article in D-Lib discusses how the University of Washington added links to Wikipedia articles to improve access to their digital collections.


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