A post by Luis Suarez at his elsua blog on Wikis in Enterprises led me to the English version of a survey being conducted by the University of Cologne. The survey looks at ‘Collaborative Working in Enterprise Environments Using Wikis’. I was checking out Luis’ blog as part of our weekly LinkedIn Bloggers boost project.

A ‘wiki’ is defined by (you guessed it) Wikipedia as ‘a collaborative web application which allows users to edit content’.

If you take the University of Cologne survey – 5-10 minutes at most – you are on a promise to receive the results of the survey. I took the survey and it was very straightforward.

A new online professional group I’ve joined, which is concerned with cultural/creativity/training issues, has a wiki, which it was hoped would help with collaboration and idea-sharing. It’s all proved too difficult and it looks as if we are going with a solution that is more in the way of a portal with blogging functionality. But no doubt there are wikis being used effectively in organisations/enterprises.

The main exposure I’ve had to wikis is with Wikipedia, the online encyclopedia, which I use regularly for research and reference. And in fact the survey about wikis led me to doing a bit of Wikipedia-enabled research.

Noticing that the survey was being conducted by the University of Cologne, I was prompted to try and recall a verse about one of my intellectual heroes, the great medieval philosopher and theologian John Duns Scotus, a verse which included reference to Cologne. Happily, I found it in the Wikipedia entry on him:  “Scotia me genuit. Anglia me suscepit. Gallia me docuit. Colonia me tenet.” (“Scotland brought me forth. England sustained me. France taught me. Cologne holds me.”)

And that reminded me that years ago, on a visit Cologne I had found, quite by chance and to my great delight, John Duns Scotus’ tomb in the Church of the Minorites (Franciscans). And that memory now sent me to burrowing in a box of old photographs and postcards. There was the picture, and in it the verse, where I had read it at the foot of the sarcophagus all those years ago.

So while I’m not sure yet about wikis in the enterprise, I have no need to be convinced of the value of Wikipedia for my research, whether in being able to quickly get an explanation of some technical term related to the online environment, or to discover such arcania as the fact that when Scotus came to Cologne the University had not yet been founded. According to Wikipedia, the ancient university was established in 1388, fifty years after Scotus’s death. But it is surely not too fanciful to conjecture that this intellectual giant of his day found in Cologne, pre-university, a stimulating environment for his questing and subtle mind.


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