Workipedia: Office Wikis and the Collaboration Revolution

Gone are the days of paper here at the offices of FastCompany.com. Virtually all in-house office communication is done electronically. E-mail is a given, as is teleconferencing. But what our office does, along with an increasing number of other streamlining-minded businesses, is employ wikis extensively.

The only paperwork I’ve had to do since I began working here is filling out timesheets and filling out W-2s. Having a paperless working environment has done wonders to decrease our carbon footprint while making project collaboration extremely simplified. We use Drupal, an open source content management system, to build our website. We use BaseCamp, a message board project management system as the primary tool of communication about upcoming projects instead of e-mail. No memos, no print-outs of drafts, and best of all no TPS reports. It’s all online.

Tools such as Drupal and BaseCamp make running a website simple and easy (most of the time). But it’s not just businesses that are using wikis to de-clutter their offices and streamline the way they operate: Newsweek reported late last year that the United Nations uses in-house wikis to help facilitate negotiation and debate about various issues of international importance. So too does the U.S. intelligence community; in fact, its collaborative sharing system among sixteen agencies is named "Intellipedia" (aren’t those government types clever?). The movement goes even further – some foreign governments are even using wikis to "involve constituents in policymaking."

I guess the days of lawmakers hashing out deals in smoke-filled rooms are ending just as quickly as the all-night office brainstorm session. Two heads are better than one, especially when it comes to the kinds of services I talked about. Effective collaboration has always been the make-or-break factor with group projects. Wikis are just the way to do it.

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