What creates the sense of community that you feel in certain newsgroups, mailing lists, or IRC's? What drives people to gather there? If you find this question interesting, then look at Wiki: it is an example of a strong community on the web.
Wiki (the collaboration tool) can be thought of as a lightweight WebDAV (web Distributed Authoring and Versioning)
without n levels of standards committees. In a Wiki site, every page can be edited by anybody, and new page links 'spring into existence' automatically just by RunningCapitalizedWordsTogether. This simple concept, created by Ward Cunningham, is surprisingly powerful. The technology behind it is also simple, and the wiki code that makes this work is written in perl, so if you want to add a feature or tweak it, then you can 'hack it'.
A visit to the original Wiki web site can be very rewarding, at . At this site, the community includes many experts in Design Patterns and Extreme Programming (XP). You will find literate discussions on software and life in general.
Laird Cameron describes Wiki well in his Open Sources column .
This book is an overview of Wiki, and a detailed how-to look at the code. The book is casual and informal, well suited to the wiki culture. It explains the thought processes which went into the design of wiki planning, deployment, and basic administration. The book contains case studies from academia and the corporate world. The accompanying CD will get you going quickly.
You will want to read this book, if:
- In the corporate world, you want your group to pull together and create a knowledge base.
- For the design of your software product, you want to understand group dynamics.
- In the academic world, you want an online meeting place for course work or peer review.
- You are studying the design and implementation of collaborative tools.
- For your personal use, you need a notebook that goes with you wherever there is a web browser.
Wiki's perl source can be hard to read,
and you will be wanting to change it.
Maybe Wiki is an entertainment for your spare time,
and then you can just play around with it.
However, you probably need this book if you are
deploying a wiki at work.
This book presents a relaxed, 'democratic' approach to Information Architecture. It encourages you to provide minimal structure: the inclusion of a search function, a recent changes page, users' mini-bios, and links to return to the top. The wiki users are encouraged to structure the content, and this book suggests how they might be encouraged to do so.
For counterpoint see Rosenfeld  who describes how to structure a conventional web site: organize information, help navigation, label the content, configure the search system, and manage the process.
I was interested by the discussion of the many Wiki clones, in Perl, SmallTalk, Java, and others. Everyone has different preferences for UI features and implementation.
Also interesting was part 3, which discusses the Wiki culture.
Wiki has fostered strong community spirit among those who have
contributed to its design and implementation.
People express diverse opinions yet work together well.
Compare this 'atmosphere' with that of of some news groups where
flames are common. When you set up a Wiki for use by your colleagues or students, you need to understand the group dynamics of a successful collaboration site, and this part of the book will help you to encourage people to take roles and get involved, thereby extending the community.
I have a few quibbles about the book and CD.
- Readers will want to visit the book's errata page  before using the CD.
- There is a 64 page subsection, with one contents entry, which is hard to navigate other than to read it sequentially (it spans pages 143 to 207).
- The source code examples in the book have an indentation width of one space (though the source on CD is formatted correctly).
- The book and CD are intended for users of MS Windows, which is unusual when discussing open source. This quibble is very minor, as the book and CD are platform neutral in most ways.
The book gets five stars at Amazon and a good review at Fatbrain. Recommended! At your bookstore, look for the cover drawing by M.C. Escher of two drawing hands, with nifty reflection effects.
By the way, you will have already heard of the untimely demise of Douglas Adams. His Guide to the Galaxy, similar to a Wiki, lives on at [...]
 Server/Workstation Expert Magazine, March 2001:
 Rosenfeld and Morville _Information Architecture_, O'Reilly
 the errata page: wiki.org/wiki.cgi?WikiWayErrata