On August 15th I attended a meetup for the Tucson Wiki Project. I’d been given a heads up about the meeting by Linda Ray with whom I had worked a few years back to create a Tucson’s Birthday event in in Second Life. About 30 people gathered at Gangplank Tucson, a creative and cooperative workspace, on the first floor of the historic Pioneer Building in downtown Tucson. Start Up Tucson‘s Justin Williams organized the gathering and the company is hosting the wiki on their servers. The site was created via Code for Tucson. The local wiki project is part of the larger LocalWiki project.
TucsonWiki.org is a community information portal. As a hyper local wiki it is, and will continue to be, a work in progress as wikis are a dynamic reflection of information contained within the communities that build them.. Hyper local wikis are geographically centered information portals intended to benefit the residents of that geographic area, as well as visitors, businesses, and other parties interested in the city or place.
At a basic level hyper-local wikis are just a variant of a normal wikis, and wikis are just cooperatively created and edited websites. Well, okay,actually there is more to it than that, but that is really all you need to know. Wikis have been around for almost 20 years. Ward Cunningham developed the first wiki in 1994.
Aside: Ward was an acquaintance of mine, a good friend of a friend, when I first attended Purdue in 1976. But I knew him as the guy that turned me on to just buying popcorn from the Westchester Seed Company rather than purchasing Orville Riddenbacher popcorn as the small Indiana company supplied the large brand. Lots of the guys I met back then went on to be developers of “significant stuff” as Seattle, Portland, and the South Bay grew into a West Coast Tech Corridor. Purdue provided a bunch of the know how to develop the computing ideas that changed the world, and for which only a few gurus usually receive credit. — I’ve been hanging out with interesting nerds and accumulating information about information for decades.
Cooperative information projects strike me as very sensible “developments” because the approach has been key to human cultural success for millennia. Communities are groups that have things in common. Geographic communities have had various sorts of physical repositories of important information for centuries, and include institutions such as churches, libraries, city halls, county record offices. Such repositories were, and are, staffed or tended by members of the community who knew how to access the information, understood the collections at various levels, and at a whole. This latter aspect is what is missing from thebits and bits of the un-curated digital information stream that is the web. This is also why the hyper-local wiki can be successful and serve real needs in communities. Interested parties can curate aspects of their local communities that are important to them.
Individuals can add their favorite parks, running trails, dog parks and businesses. Local associations can add member businesses to the wiki or update information that is already posted about them. If an inaccurate bit of information is posted, it can be changed. There is never a final version. Culture is created by all of us. So are hyper-local wikis.
The success of specific wikis is dependent upon individuals who care about the issues and information of their communities to write or edit short descriptions of the parts of a city or place touches their lives.
If you have some attachment to Tucson, please write about it. You can register or write anonymously at tucsonwiki.org.
This post was made part of the Tucson Tuesday blog hop on September 24, 2013.