NSF Looking for a Better Wiki

Ross Stapleton-Gray pointed me to an NSF award to the University of Colorado for SGER: A New Generation Wiki for Supporting a Research Community in Creativity and IT:

The proposed research will create environments that go beyond existing Wikis (being primarily focused on hypertext) to permit the integration (not just attachment) of other forms of media ranging from movies and animations, to sharing of datasets, to the creation and utilization of social network information to support community interaction, to conceptual mind-mapping media.

The proposed research will

  • examine how current wiki-like environments are limited in supporting the different ways in which creative people might represent and contribute to a body of knowledge and study what other types of objects, context and interfaces (beyond hyperlinked text) would be desirable, usable, and useful;
  • analyze and create specifically the following entities: mind maps, videos, anecdotes/stories and how these could be designed to allow them to be readily and rapidly developed and extended by participants;
  • explore different (potentially intertwined) “modes” interacting with such an environment (including: face-to-face activities, synchronous, and asynchronous activities); and
  • utilize new paradigms (such as the emerging Web 2.0 framework) for developing systems that are open and extensible, permitting the inclusion of new forms of information and representation within the community memory.

The award is for approximately $200,000. It will be interesting to see what comes of it. The wiki idea of shared editing is clearly a huge idea. I’d be surprised if many of the innovations the grant is seeking don’t come out of the commercial marketplace, but it would be great to see some additional sources of innovation, especially if the results are open sourced. There was no word on what the license terms will be for the resulting work.