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No. 16 Wikis (2006年05月10日)

カテゴリー: The Treasure Hunt Club
Marcel Van Amelsvoort
(Kanagawa Prefectural College of Foreign Studies)
A wiki is a type of website that organizes content. In terms of technology
it is similar to a blog, but it is able to contain a tremendous amount of
information organized in a way that makes it easy to search or find that
information. For users, wikis usually look like encyclopedias. Indeed the
most famous wiki actually is an encyclopedia: Wikipedia. The first wiki was

created by Ward Cunnigham in 1995. The name comes from a local Hawaian word,
wiki-wiki, that means “quick.” The most important thing about wikis is
that the content is provided by the users. That is, the users actually write
all the content in the wiki. Some users write it, then others read it and
check it and edit it or add to it to improve it.
An article in the journal Nature several months ago compared the
Encyclopedia Britannica to Wikipedia and found that the science articles in
Wikipedia did not have many more errors than those in the well-known
Encyclopedia Britannica. Wikipedia, however, was written by its readers over
a period of 5 years and is available in several languages for free.
http://wikipedia.org/ Indeed Wikipedia is so well-established now that even
the Economist magazines quotes it! It is an excellent source of information
on a very wide range of topics and can be useful for students as well as
But wikis are being used for more than just encyclopedias. They are now
being used for shopping sites or product manuals or FAQ lists. Any user can
log in and edit any page, either by asking a question, adding a new section,
writing about their experience, or giving advice. Two of the most famous
wikis have a very interesting function. World 66 (http://www.world66.com/)
and WikiTravel (http://wikitravel.org/en/Main_Page) contain travel
information written by travelers for travelers. They both have large (but
still incomplete!) sections on Japan. A very interesting classroom activity
for students here is to look at what is written for their area and compose
or edit or add more content that will be used by future visitors. Standards
are high, however, so teachers may need to edit material before allowing
students to post their content, but I think it would make a nice little side
project for an English language class in Japan. And being residents of an
area, you and your students know it better than anyone, right?