The Wiki – No Longer Trapped in the Land of the Nerds

Most of you probably know what a wiki is, but if you don’t here is a simple definition: a wiki is a website that any visitor can change or update.

When I saw my first wiki 3 years ago, it was one of the ugliest websites I think I had ever seen. As a visitor, yes, I could update it. But my thought was, why would I want to? The wikis I saw had limited usefulness — just text on a page. Updating them was an arcane and unpleasantly techy process.

Back then, it took a real visionary to see the potential in wikis. One such visionary is serial entrepreneur and former Excite@home president, Joe Kraus.

Joe co-founded and now runs JotSpot, which is called an application wiki company.

Joe Kraus was my guest on this week’s Small Business Trends Radio program. In the Radio show, he recalled the first time he saw a wiki 3 years ago. He said: “wikis were trapped in the land of the nerds.”

Over the years, wikis have gotten better. They have migrated from the land of the nerds. In fact, they are so much better today, you could call them second-generation wikis.

When I visited the JotSpot site to prepare for my Radio show, I was struck by how simple and user-friendly it looked. You can set up a free account and get started immediately.

The biggest surprise of all is the range of uses of wikis. Wikis are no longer plain-Jane text-based websites. JotSpot offers multiples uses: calendars, a spreadsheet, to-do lists, project management application, polls, photo gallery and slideshow. You could use JotSpot as an intranet to collaborate within your team — especially good for virtual teams where people are spread out in different locations.

Be sure to listen to the podcast about wikis with Joe Kraus. I think it adds a lot of insight to hear him talk about his vision for wikis and how businesses can use them.

Anita Campbell Anita Campbell is the Founder, CEO and Publisher of Small Business Trends and has been following trends in small businesses since 2003. She is the owner of BizSugar, a social media site for small businesses.