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6 Ways to Use a Wiki

6 Ways to Use a Wiki

You know how it goes: everyone around you gets all giddy about a new technology, so you go and check it out. Sure, you admit that it looks and feels neat, but then you think, “Well, what will I do with it? I felt that way for a long time about wikis.

The reason was that the most popular wiki out there is Wikipedia. (If you’re not clear on the concept, a wiki is a type of website that allows for easy editing of information, usually by multiple users). Well, that’s a huge implementation. It’s a friken encylopedia, people! So, I just imagined there was nothing much a wiki could offer me. Wrong.

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First, I should state that there are a gazillion interesting implementations and variations on the wiki theme. There are GTD wikis, by the way, and all kinds of other specialized implementations (Have you seen Jot.com?). For my piece, I’ll use PBWiki. Why? Because it’s free (you can pay to upgrade). Because it’s low-effort. Because it’s hosted. You can share your favorite wikis in the comments and explain why.

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  • Resume (CV)– I often stick my full resume up online complete with contact information. It’s useful instead of sending attachments, and I find that I’ve received interesting and useful contact with people, even when I’m not looking for a job. It’s also a good way to remind me to keep the document current, as opposed to fishing around for the Word document and updating it whenever I think about it.
  • Snips of HTML code– I’m lazy, and a little forgetful. There are certain things I need repeatedly that I haven’t built into a form, or that I want to be able to quickly copy/paste to a variety of sources. Using a client-side application means I have to be on my computer at home (or work). I like just having that bit in the wiki for re-use (even if it looks ugly on the wiki when you hit save).
  • Stuff you’ll re-use– Along the lines of the HTML code, I usually like having a picture of me (for various site profiles- flickr, myspace, etc), a quick “bio” part for the “About me” in such profiles, etc. Because I log into lots of stuff and create accounts, instead of using an auto-form thing (which often fails me), I copy/paste from my wiki.
  • Contact Database– I make little wiki spreadsheets for certain types of contact lists. I have a “go to guy” list, where I keep name, email, telephone (if I have it), and specialty for various people I’ve met and befriended online. This way, when I think, “Hmm, how do I go about finding a lawyer to check my terms and conditions,” I can look up my list and pick Matt to ask that question. You could, if you chose, use it for your regular contact list, too.
  • Event Coordination– It worked for Barcamp, and it’s working for PodCamp. Having an open wiki is allowing us to organize an event virtually, and though we keep an email stream and other communication open, the wiki has proved immensely valuable for stuff we’ve stored, stuff we need to reference, and stuff we want to share with everyone else. It’s pretty much the simplest site design tool to use when you have to get lots of people to use one.
  • Parking Lot Items– I have lots of project ideas that I can’t really get to, but that I don’t want to drop altogether. Call it my “someday/maybe” list (to use GTD terms). Those go in my wiki for future review. I usually order them in terms of interest/priority, and then adjust that list once a month or so.
  • BONUS: Tracking– I use the wiki’s basic spreadsheet functions to track simple things, like weight loss, or money spent, or the like, for specific, targeted things. In one, I tracked my expenses for setting up new podcasting gear.

Those are my ideas and thoughts on other ways to use wikis. What are yours? What are you doing with a wiki? Oh, and while we’re at it, check out the Lifehack wiki and contribute. Leon will thank you for it.

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–Chris Brogan writes about self-improvement at [chrisbrogan.com](rss feed). He’s helping organize PodCamp Boston, a FREE unconference in September.

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Last Updated on May 14, 2019

8 Replacements for Google Notebook

8 Replacements for Google Notebook

Exploring alternatives to Google Notebook? There are more than a few ‘notebooks’ available online these days, although choosing the right one will likely depend on just what you use Google Notebook for.

  1. Zoho Notebook
    If you want to stick with something as close to Google Notebook as possible, Zoho Notebook may just be your best bet. The user interface has some significant changes, but in general, Zoho Notebook has pretty similar features. There is even a Firefox plugin that allows you to highlight content and drop it into your Notebook. You can go a bit further, though, dropping in any spreadsheets or documents you have in Zoho, as well as some applications and all websites — to the point that you can control a desktop remotely if you pare it with something like Zoho Meeting.
  2. Evernote
    The features that Evernote brings to the table are pretty great. In addition to allowing you to capture parts of a website, Evernote has a desktop search tool mobil versions (iPhone and Windows Mobile). It even has an API, if you’ve got any features in mind not currently available. Evernote offers 40 MB for free accounts — if you’ll need more, the premium version is priced at $5 per month or $45 per year. Encryption, size and whether you’ll see ads seem to be the main differences between the free and premium versions.
  3. Net Notes
    If the major allure for Google Notebooks lays in the Firefox extension, Net Notes might be a good alternative. It’s a Firefox extension that allows you to save notes on websites in your bookmarks. You can toggle the Net Notes sidebar and access your notes as you browse. You can also tag websites. Net Notes works with Mozilla Weave if you need to access your notes from multiple computers.
  4. i-Lighter
    You can highlight and save information from any website while you’re browsing with i-Lighter. You can also add notes to your i-Lighted information, as well as email it or send the information to be posted to your blog or Twitter account. Your notes are saved in a notebook on your computer — but they’re also synchronized to the iLighter website. You can log in to the site from any computer.
  5. Clipmarks
    For those browsers interested in sharing what they find with others, Clipmarks provides a tool to select clips of text, images and video and share them with friends. You can easily syndicate your finds to a whole list of sites such as Facebook, Twitter and Digg. You can also easily review your past clips and use them as references through Clipmarks’ website.
  6. UberNote
    If you can think of a way to send notes to UberNote, it can handle it. You can clip material while browsing, email, IM, text message or even visit the UberNote sites to add notes to the information you have saved. You can organize your notes, tag them and even add checkboxes if you want to turn a note into some sort of task list. You can drag and drop information between notes in order to manage them.
  7. iLeonardo
    iLeonardo treats research as a social concern. You can create a notebook on iLeonardo on a particular topic, collecting information online. You can also access other people’s notebooks. It may not necessarily take the place of Google Notebook — I’m pretty sure my notes on some subjects are cryptic — but it’s a pretty cool tool. You can keep notebooks private if you like the interface but don’t want to share a particular project. iLeonardo does allow you to follow fellow notetakers and receive the information they find on a particular topic.
  8. Zotero
    Another Firefox extension, Zotero started life as a citation management tool targeted towards academic researchers. However, it offers notetaking tools, as well as a way to save files to your notebook. If you do a lot of writing in Microsoft Word or Open Office, Zotero might be the tool for you — it’s integrated with both word processing software to allow you to easily move your notes over, as well as several blogging options. Zotero’s interface is also available in more than 30 languages.

I’ve been relying on Google Notebook as a catch-all for blog post ideas — being able to just highlight information and save it is a great tool for a blogger.

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In replacing it, though, I’m starting to lean towards Evernote. I’ve found it handles pretty much everything I want, especially with the voice recording feature. I’m planning to keep trying things out for a while yet — I’m sticking with Google Notebook until the Firefox extension quits working — and if you have any recommendations that I missed when I put together this list, I’d love to hear them — just leave a comment!

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