[Wikipedia-l] GUI? WYSIWYG?

Michael R. Irwin mri_icboise at surfbest.net
Sun Aug 11 06:29:49 UTC 2002

Stephen Gilbert wrote:
> --- Daniel Mayer <maveric149 at yahoo.com> wrote:
> > On Saturday 10 August 2002 10:15 am, Hr. Daniel
> > Mikkelsen wrote:
> > > When someone makes a GUI frontend to
> > > Wikipedia, those features will become more
> > > sophisticated (wysiwyg).
> >
> > Blasphemy! GUI? WYSIWYG? Now that would be unwiki.
> >
> > Seriously; one of the reasons why we are successful
> > is because there is a bit
> > of a learning curve to being a contributor (small,
> > but it is there). I hate
> > to say it, but this small learning curve acts as a
> > kind of filter against
> > those that have nothing but incoherent and random
> > nonsense to "contribute".
> Ward Cunningham, the founder of Wiki, says on
> WhyWikiWorks (http://c2.com/cgi/wiki?WhyWikiWorks)
> "Wiki is not WYSIWYG (WhatYouSeeIsWhatYouGet). It's an
> intelligence test of sorts to be able to edit a wiki
> page. It's not rocket science, but it doesn't appeal
> to the VideoAddicts. If it doesn't appeal, they don't
> participate, which leaves those of us who read and
> write to get on with rational discourse."
> I think he's probably right. We should remember that
> one of the reasons why Wikipedia has been successful
> while other encyclopedia projects have not is the wiki
> way of contributing.

I think he is dead wrong.  Graphics has been at the
fore front of computer development because it is so
critical to effective presentation and assimilation
of information.

The sections on engineering and technology are not
going to improve very fast until we have some type of
easy graphics markup for at least diagrams.

Alternatively, I guess we can write some excellent 
procedures up coaching random drop in technologists who are
not computer wizards (there are many in various engineering
fields) in how to create png files from diagrams.

A problem with this approach is that we lose the wiki
way of contributing that you refer too.  Each graphic
is a unique work of art and a complete production task
in and of itself.

SVG may be a partial or complete solution for this, I
have not checked on it for a while.

I am unfamiliar with LaTex, does it do diagrams as
part of its typesetting?

I think a lot of people will put up with text wiki currently
because of the obvious value of collaboration on the
internet.  Collaborate with a distributed team of
self selected interesting and interested people once
and publish it to the entire internet.  This is a
powerful draw that outweighs the definate drawback
of returning to primitive text editors.

If we want to attract specialists to help us improve
our content quality and depth we can probably do so by
improving our graphics collaboration tools.

Axel, Jan and some others have been after LaTex.  Why?
Because it greatly improves their efficiency and 
capability of presentation.

Engineers need diagrams, sketches and drawings.
Organic Chemists need molecular diagrams.
MDs need anatomical graphics, overlays,
Generals need maps.
Animation is useful at times .... no I do not
know how to allow casual dropins to tweak an animation clip.

Maybe as we expand we will have sub communities evolve
around special skillsets and use of appropriate tools.

Encarta was multimedia a decade ago.

It is my prediction that the first simple to start using 
WYSIWYG (WhatYouSeeIsWhatYouGet) Wiki will leave all 
others in the dust.  

My opinion is based upon memories of the transitions:
Wordstar to WordPerfect  (preview what you get before printing)
WordPerfect to Word      (WYSIWYG)

I know of no word processor user who ever looked
back after the ability to see before printing and
then see onscreen as you work arrived.

As H2G2.com would recommend ... Don't Panic!

We do not need all these whiz bang tools right away to 
get started but it is worth keeping in mind that we 
will/may need them eventually to remain competitive or viable.


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