I stumbled on an article by Jason R Briggs entitled “Design by Wiki” on a software development site called ONLamp. The author makes a case for using wiki software to handle documents generated in a collaborative project such as an architectural or interior design job. Although this article is over my head technologically (and somewhat old, having been written in January of 2005), it’s an interesting thought and deserves more study.

For those of you who don’t know, wiki sites harness the collecive wisdom of web users by allowing anyone to add or edit content on the site. The most well known wiki site is Wikipedia, an encyclopedia that is both broad and deep. Some distrust Wikipedia because it is not necessarily written by experts, but others (like me) find it to be an incredibly useful resource. While there may be instances where the information contained in a Wikipedia article is not entirely accurate or where there is disagreement on what is factual, it still remains the best source of information that I’ve found on practically any topic.

Wikipedia is run by software developed by MediaWiki. The software is free and can be downloaded by anyone wishing to develop a wiki site. Because I’m not a software engineer, I can’t quite follow MediaWiki’s instructions on how to actually set up a wiki site, but I’m sure there are plenty of consultants who would be more than happy to do it for me.

Back to Mr Briggs’ point, however. He says:

From a collaborative point of view, a wiki can provide a central point of contact for a team, and indeed for all major stakeholders in a project, no matter how distributed–an end to the “check out doc, modify doc, check in doc, notify interested parties” cycle of document editing. It allows the tracking and monitoring of changes and control over edit access, and there is no need to enforce a standardized template or document structure because the wiki software itself very much dictates layout and structure.

Have architecture and design firms explored this project management option? If not, it might be worth trying.

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