Thoughts on Structured/Unstructured and Shared Information Management using Wiki and other emerging technologies
Friday, March 12, 2004

Integrating wiki and NNTP servers

One of key problems with wiki systems are that the changes are not available in sequence, like in email. People have to visit the topic explicitly. With all due apologies to Joel's article Building Communities with Software (one of suggestions being not to incorporate email interfaces!), I think it is important to have email-like interfaces along with hierarchy and organization oriented access to wiki topics.

And the standards are yet again to our aid! I discovered nntp/rss - a tool that provides nntp service over aggregated RSS feeds. It is a a Java-based bridge between RSS feeds and NNTP clients. You can use your favourite newsreader (typically available with most email clients) to read the RSS syndicated content. Native readers provide rich experience anyway.

And wiki systems have usually incorporated capability to stream changes as RSS feeds. And that allows us to access wiki changes via newsreader. There are variations: Some feeds may only contain topic names, some others might contain complete topic content (leading to content replication, hogging disk space). But good thing is that news readers are supposed to expire the content after some time.

There are some caveats though:

Neverthless, this is still useful, and I think easy to setup.

Mobile users have additional requirements: They want to replicate wiki topics that they normally visit on their laptops. This is partly solved by having newsgroup access since newsgroups can make information available offline.

Better still, once useful links are in newsgroups, a local robot can go and fetch these pages and make them available offline, in almost automated manner. (Note that you are using newsgroup subscription interface to list interesting webs and topics.)

And the final task would be to integrate replies to articles back into wiki. We require some standardization. We will also have to bother about conflicts.

So these solutions do deserve a good attention from enterprise IT shops!


About this blog
All realms of collaboration:
  • Wiki. Weblogs
  • New Integration Platforms for combined structured and unstructured information: Wiki, Portals, Email Clients,
  • Collaborative Document editing, Collaborative knowledge building
  • Email Interfaces to collaborative shares
  • Information organization, management, Publishing: In context of organizations, individuals, Opensource projects etc.
About me:
Name:Vinod Kulkarni

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