|To a Hawaiian, the word wikiwiki
(pronounced "wee kee wee kee") means quick, hurry, or hasten. To a programmer (Hawaiian or otherwise)
it means a collaborative Web site where anyone and everyone can insert, update, and delete content.
Ward Cunningham, a self-dubbed "Smalltalk/Objects/Patterns consultant" for his own firm, coined an
abbreviated version of the term--Wiki--for the first collaborative Web site
he created in 1995 to gather information about patterns in programming languages. Although the idea
of a completely unmoderated Web site might seem like an open invitation to chaos and vandalism,
Cunningham’s experience in the past eight years of creating Wiki sites has been that people appreciate
the responsibility of open access, and prefer to create rather than destroy. Because Wiki have no
security to overcome, they present no challenge to the truly malevolent, and so are not heavily
vandalized. They are, however, popular: approximately 24,000 Wiki have sprung directly from Cunningham’s
original site. Many others exist independently, particularly to support collaborative software
Is there such a creature as a geospatial Wiki, offering every Internet visitor
the power to edit the same map? I couldn’t find any quite that open,
but at least two spatial Web sites are already headed in the Wiki direction.
The City of San Francisco’s SFProspector (www.sfprospector.org)
and the University of California’s OakMapper (www.oakmapper.org)
both capture some of their geographic content from users unaffiliated with
the sites’ owners. According to their managers, collaborative spatial Web
sites raise issues of privacy, usability, and outreach, but significantly
enhance the value of the existing dataset.
Would your dataset benefit from other people’s data, and, if so, what will prompt them to contribute
in the first place? This column explores the issues that arise when a public spatial Web site
welcomes data entry by multiple private or public users.
SOD Sudden Oak Death
UCB University of California, Berkeley
USGS U.S Geological Survey