Friday, January 25, 2008

Peanut butter @ lunch

Yes, this week has featured a set of lunchtime posts; today is no exception. While having macaroni & cheese and a sloppy joe (not much nutrition, but plenty of comfort) I have been updating my very first wiki. My main reason for attending ALA midwinter was fulfilling obligations to committees. Members of one committee were discussing creation of a web site. With this end product in mind, topics for inclusion were bandied about, as well as someone to edit our documents before placing them as a web page. I'm new to this committee and tend to spend a lot of time nodding my head in contribution, but I admit to having the not so fleeting thought; why aren't we using a wiki? It would allow for collaboration and eliminate the need for email attachments and a single editor. If we wiki, everyone sees the work; hesitantly I put forth the option to the group. Merits were debated and I found myself volunteering to create a private wiki for the group collaborative effort.

I chose PB Wiki, they have a free version for business and educators. It was a breeze to create and utilizes a point and click environment and simple wysiwyg editor. Forget basic coding and trying to interpret how the links are managed, PBwiki's desktop environment is similar to that of blogs. Within a half hour I had a main wiki page, complete with text (purpose, links, committee member contact), seven secondary topical pages, a sidebar with quick links to each wiki page and outside links, emailed the committee members with wiki invites, had chosen to make the project private (assigned a password), and signed up to receive email notices when it was updated. Overall, a great beginner's experience.

Today I decided to add links, along with short bibliographic information, to the section I was charged with compiling. Here is where I had some issue. When going to the main PB Wiki page, users are presented with "Create a wiki," "take a video tour," and at the top right corner of the page, a login prompt. Since I already had a wiki, I attempted to login. Attempt is the key word as PB wiki continually told me I did not have an email address on file. Huh, odd. I pulled up my email notice, went directly to the wiki, and was able to log in and begin working. Still confused, I sent an email to their support staff questioning the circumstance.

Believe it or not, I had an answer from a live person addressing my actual question within a half hour. Support Guru Rachel responded:

Logging into PBwiki is actually a different registration. You can go to and sign up for a PBwiki Identity which will allow you to connect any wikis you might use under one login. You can read our FAQ for more information.

Go figure. I have faculty learning community obligations later this afternoon, so creating an identity will have to wait for another day. Thanks for the quick response Support Guru Rachel.

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