Wiki Introduction

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This is an introduction to the wiki as a (social) platform, a historical piece of software and its position within the Social Practices. For a tutorial about how to get an account and practically work with the wiki, read the Wiki Tutorial.

Beyond Social's wiki Introduction

For Beyond Social we use a specific type of wiki software, called Mediawiki. The Beyond Social wiki is the central work- and publishing space for Beyond Social. By using the wiki as a backend (working) and a frontend (publishing) at the same time, it brings the act of reading & writing together. As Beyond Social is a project that aims to create a discourse for social practices, we hope that the wiki can serve as a tool to create and document the developments, reformulations and discussions of student projects, reflections and external initiatives.

short wiki history

the first

The first wiki was create in 1995 by Ward Cunningham, and it was called Wiki Wiki Web (Wiki in Hawaii means quick!).

short wiki history, on Cunningham's first wiki platform

Interview with Ward Cunningham

Wikis are about speed and easiness of writing and publishing on the Web.

Also about collaboration. According to Ward Cunningham ‘People discovered that they can create something with other people, that they don't even know. But they come to trust and they make something that surprises them in terms of its value’.

example wiki's

Consequently wikis have been used extensively as environments for online collaboration. Examples of this are:


Wiki Characteristics

working / documenting / publishing

The wiki could become a central platform where different functions come together: the wiki as work platform, as documenting platform and as publishing platform. These are examples that work with a wiki in the different ways:

typical wiki features

  • everything is a page
  • the wiki can host many pages easily (it's built for that)
  • everyone can be both a reader and a writer
  • single authorship is not promoted (which means that an article doesn't have a single author, and the name of an author is not prominently displayed next to an article)
  • every article saves its editing history (and you can look back in time to compare versions)
  • the wiki stimulates internal linking as a way to create connections between articles
  • links to non-existing pages can be made, which can be interpreted as an invite to someone else to write the page
  • every page has a Discussion page where users can discuss the content of the article
  • wiki software comes with many features that offer various entrances into the content (recent changes, categories, random page)
  • this wiki comes with a set of Special Pages, for which special pieces of software is written to display various wiki activities, such as an overview of all pages, the least revised article, the most active user, the latest uploaded files, the most used Categories, etc. See: Special:SpecialPages

an important one:

  • this wiki software (called MediaWiki) is free software

other useful features

  • for this wiki counts: once you have an account, you can create and edit as many pages as you like (note: every created page is saved!)
  • there are several user groups in the wiki: there are Administrators, Bureaucrats, Bots, Widget Editors, and (all), which is the default user group where every user is part of. Every user group has specific rights.
  • There is no traditional division between editor, proof Reader and writer in the sense that every user can fullfill each role.
  • Everyone can make a User page, and leave some information about him/herself.

Beyond Social wiki developments

Beyond Social's wiki2web (2014 - 2016)

the wiki as backend

In between 2014 & 2016, Beyond Social already used this wiki as part of their publishing workflow, where it had a backend function for a wiki2web workflow. The wiki was a workarea, where articles and images were collected and brought together to generate the online Beyond Social Issues. Andre worked together with design studio Template to create an external Beyond Social front-end, that functioned as the webzine of the project. More about the wiki2web workflow is described by André Castro in this article Making Beyond Social.

The code of the wiki2web workflow is hosted on the Publication Station Github page here.

Beyond Social Issues

From 2014-2016 Beyond social was structured around the creation of Issues, which are best understood as editorial web magazines that reflect on a specific topic in the social practices discourse. Both students, teachers and external practitioners contributed to these issues. The following issues have been published:

Beyond Social as a wiki platform (Nov 2016 - Feb. 2017)

wiki metamorfose

a first wiki interface draft for the Main Page (Dec. 2016)

Between November 2016 and February 2017 the wiki will go through a visual and structural metamorfose. The main structural changes will be:

  • The overall style and layout of the wiki will be changed.
  • The frontpage will be an overview of various user activities that are main features of the mediawiki software.
  • There will be a moderated area in the sidebar, and a "suggestions" area on the frontpage where certain topics, articles, or projects can be highlighted. This section will be curated by a special to-be-decided moderator-team.
  • We will create a section on the wiki, where people can create Editorials: a personal selection of wiki articles that is accompanied by a short introduction text. These curated set of articles will link different elements of the wiki together.
  • We want to work with a visual editor extension, and a visual category selection extension. Installing these extensions can be tricky, but we will try to implement them as they make working with the wiki more accessible.

The code of the new Beyond Social wiki skin is hosted on the Publication Station Github page.

the wiki as central publishing platform

How can the wiki capture & create the discourse of the Social Practices?


  • the wiki as platform for writing assignments?
    • students can read and see writing activities from others
    • making an "editorial" as a reflection excercise?
  • course instructions, links, planning?
    • making public what happens insight the Social Practices programmes?


  • the wiki as a documentation platform for the Social Practices discourse?
    • students/tutors can connect to external partners by writing a bio for them?
    • students & tutors & external partners can document/present their projects on the wiki
    • the same counts for events, or reviews


  • external parties can be invited to write an editorial
  • student projects can be published to the outside world
  • teacher can publish about their own projects

Beyond Social Event #4: 9 February 2017

On the 9th of February there will be a Beyond Social event in The New Institute, around the theme of Urban Agenda's.