The first wiki, WikiWikiWeb, was created 14 years ago today, by Ward Cunningham. Since then, the wiki has become one of the most widely deployed collaboration tools available. One might even call the wiki the catalyst of the Social Software movement.
Why is the wiki so popular? There are several reasons, including ease of use, structured navigation, and the ability to track changes to wiki pages and roll back to previous versions. The democratic nature of the format, in which anyone who has access can edit the wiki, is undoubtedly a major contributor to its success as well.
The primary reason for the wiki’s success is its flexibility. Wikis have been used for everything from collaboratively authoring a document, to managing a project, to establishing a corporate knowledge base. We are seeing the same phenomenon today in Twitter, which is being used in ways that its creators never imagined.
So, at age 14, what has the wiki taught us? That collaboration tools should be designed for flexible, yet intuitive, use. Complexity is kryptonite to collaboration. Let’s remember that before we build and deploy enterprise collaboration software.