The Second Life as Wiki Theory

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POSTED: September 5, 2006

The online Wired magazine has an article about wikis that is an actual wiki. The idea is that readers will edit it over a short period and then Wired will write up the process, and their observations about it.

The most interesting part (to me) though is a set of comments from Yoz Grahame, billed here as a Developer Advocate for Ning a startup that helps users build, tweak and share their own web applications and content.

“If you let them build it, they will come,” Grahame, who helped found the BBC-owned Wikipedia-esque project H2G2 under the direction of Douglas Adams, says.

Although it seems that with wikis that people are just editing text, there’s something more important going on, which is the editing of structure,” Grahame said. “And quite often in the discussion parts, like the talk pages of Wikipedia, that’s where you see process evolving. The great thing about wikis is that since they are such blank and restructurable slates, we are able to evolve with them.

Most interestingly (by which I mean most relevant to my current interests), Grahame says that “Second Life ? the popular online world where users inhabit alternate personas, buy land and build houses ? is in its own way a wiki”

Second Life “hands over a huge amount of building control to their users, not just to create objects, but to program these objects,” Grahame said.

If you let users take control of objects that are operating in this shared environment and which can work with other people’s code as well, that’s where you get exponential laws taking off.

Now this is an interesting starting point for thinking about SL and visual knowledge building. It suggests many ways in which it could be used pedagogically, not just for “distance learning”, but for collaborative concept and knowledge building.

An initial question: how is this kind of visual knowledge building diagrammatic in the sense that Charles Peirce used the word? More specifically, to what can the diagrams created in Second Life be referred?