Saturday, June 04, 2005

Peanut Butter Wiki


PBwiki is a free web-based wiki service I've been testing. Wiki is an interesting Internet technology that lets users edit whatever projects they co-manage online -- the most famous being Wikipedia, the online encyclopedia. The whole point of wiki is that any Joe and Jane Click-Happy can access a wiki page and edit it online, even the pranksters, but one specific function of wiki nullifies pranksters' efforts -- it keeps every single edit on file, so, let's say, if someone maliciously defaces a page, the original is never lost and can be posted right back.

PBwiki (as in "easy as making a peanut butter sandwich" kind of wiki) has an interesting twist -- it provides the users a password-protected mechanism so only the users' friends can participate in editing the pages. This password protection makes PBwiki a nifty tool for keeping personal notes and coordinating projects. Here are some of my early observations:

Pros:
#1 Simplicity. Creating wiki pages is a cinch. Mind you, these pages aren't sophisticated, but you can add links and post digitized images etc.
#2 No ads (so far). Update 6/23/05: Google ads started to appear.
#3 The entire editing history is kept in the server. Even if you go in there just to change a word or two, it automatically creates a page to preserve the editing process.
#4 Tight security. This is the beauty (or the "beast", see Cons #2) of PBwiki, which makes it great for keeping private notes and managing projects with friends, to whom you must give the password so they can enter your wiki site.

Cons:
#1 Too simple. There is no spell checker, and forget about trying to flaunt your artistic talent in webpage creation on wiki pages.
#2 PBwiki pages cannot be linked out publicly because of the tight security, so its "social networking" function is limited to friends you already have. Update 6/8/05 -- the smart pbwiki folks have corrected this. Now the users have the choice of making their pbwiki sites either private or public with a simple "switch". Brilliant!

You may ask, "How is PBwiki different from creating a private blog on, say, Google's Blogger.com?" Good question. You can keep private notes on a non-public Blogger account too, however, if someone knows your Blogger account's URL address, this person can still type in the URL and read your blog, whereas if a stranger types in the address of your PBwiki site, the password protection will keep him out.

To create your personal wiki go to PBwiki.com.

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