Saturday, May 05, 2007

Good Idea, Bad Implementation

Every once in a while I have what I think is a great idea that doesn’t turn out to be so great. A few weeks ago, I setup a Wikispace for a professional organization to which I am a member. My thought was to create a place where members could share information concerning Education Technology as well as what they have learned at our regional conferences. Sounds like a good idea right? Right!

The problem was not with the idea but with the implementation of the Wiki. You also have to realize that I am very uptight about file management. I like to have files organized by categories and/or types. Perhaps this is from too many years of building and maintaining web sites.

To help set the stage, I created a
Wikispace. ( Next, I created a new page for each of the four chapters in the organization. Each chapter host a conference throughout the year so I thought a page for each conference would be a good idea. Next, I created a page for the Way Out West Conference for 2007 this included future links to pages for each conference session. (See the diagram below for the page link structure.)

Click the Image to see full size.

Once the basic Wikispace was created, I recruited Peggy George to help me create and link the conference session pages. As we chattered away over SKYPE, we create the 40 conference session pages. With each new page, I noticed the list of available pages to link to was growing.

While these new pages are not a major issue at this time, I could see this continual growing list become a huge problem for future AzTEA conferences. Consider this, the Way Out West conference add 40 pages Wikispace and to the list. If each of the other chapters added 40 pages to the Wikispace, the list would grow to 160 items, thus making it a challenge to find the correct page to link. Adding to that challenge was the realization that 160 links would only take care of this particular year. Each year AzTEA could add an additional 160 pages to the Wikispace along with the 160 links in the list.

Is there a solution? Absolutely!

A better way to handle this challenge is to analyze the problem. As stated above, I have too many pages creating an issue when linking pages in the
Wikispace and this problem will be exacerbated each year. However, if I were to create a new Wikispace for each years conference, the list of links would not grow out of control.

Click the Image to see full size.

Does this solution have a few design flaws too? YES it does. In our current AzTEA Wikispace environment, we are able to invite members to the main AzTEA Wikispace. This will allow members to participate in any page within the Wikispace. Creating a new Wikispace for each conference will require participants to be members of each Wikispace to add content. We could also not require membership to participate in the Wikispace. Some may find that to be a not to be an option. However, I am willing to give it a try.