Wiki fun, the early days

Wiki fun, the early days: Today, there are lots of comments bouncing around the blogosphere and wikiosphere about the purchase of the domain name Wiki.com for $2.86 million to be used by John Gotts to launch “an online destination for consumers to learn about, create and share wiki sites.”

He partnered with wiki hosting firm MindTouch to handle the technology side of things after, according to Valleywag.com, he “called JotSpot and offered the deal, assuming they’d jump at the chance. But the wiki company told him they didn’t want to work with a competitor.”

I am not a dispassionate sideline observer of such news. I am a full-blown wiki kool-aid drinker. Not only as a creator of media, but as an area of business. I am a big fan of wikis and almost feel fortunate that so much media coverage of wikis is focused on controversies surrounding abuses of Wikipedia. My “evil business side” lets me know that as long as wikis are getting such negative mainstream coverage, other “traditional media types” won’t dive into yet another goofy sounding web thing. Indeed, I consider it a competitive advantage of mine whenever I discover some really amazing Web 2.0 technology or approach is being called by some silly-sounding name as it assures me that I have a year or two to play with it before anyone I know in the real world will start thinking about it in terms of a business application. (I especially love really brilliant web applications that leave vowels out of their names as that adds another six months to my opportunity to see if it really makes sense.)

Also, it helps me to know that the most popular open-source software running the best known wikis is so user unfriendly that it frightens off all but the most tech-savvy traditional media developers and, unfortunately, potential contributors to a wiki-powered website. For me, that’s also a competitive advantage. Indeed, even if you go try to set up a Wiki.com site today (and it’s utilizing a relatively “easy” user-interaface) chances are if you’re not a geek, you’ll be extremely frustrated with how hard it is…and you’ll write off the whole “wiki thing” for another six months. (Hint, you’ll probably find it easier to set up one on jotspot.com)

I’ve long gotten past equating Wikipedia’s downside with the incredible upside potential of the wiki platform and approach. It’s like in the early days of blogging (and, frankly, still today) when the critics of “bloggers” (primarily, those threatened by bloggers) couldn’t get over their dislike of who was blogging to realize the medium was, in effect, a real simple to use content management platform that could be used by traditional media as easily as by someone wearing pajamas. Frankly, they still don’t get it. Today, that same type of “not getting it” is taking place over wikis because of two reasons: 1. “Wiki” is a goofy word — it sounds like a toy, not something with the engineering and cultural significance of, say, Hoover Dam. 2. Wikipedia’s first “mainstream” coverage has nearly all been filtered though a lens of its potential for evil and abuse. These two factors mean, simply, that the arena of wiki-based media is wide open for people like me to play around in.

And by play, I mean do something I enjoy that brings me great satisfaction, that will be of service to the greatest number of people — and that also has the potential for being a significant business opportunity.

Those who read this weblog closely know that for the past few months, I have used a rather valuable piece of Internet real estate, the domain name Smallbusiness.com to create what’s becoming a wonderful casebook example of the power of a wiki platform. When I set it up, I couldn’t believe no one had registered the URL SmallbusinessWiki.com, so I did that and redirected it to Smallbusiness.com. Also, the same is true for wiki.smallbusiness.com and sbwiki.com.

The one URL I thought I’d never get was smallbusiness.wiki.com, but, as the saying goes, “The early bird let’s some other guy pay the $2.86 million.”

That’s what I mean by fun.

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