WikiClock: The Next Killer Wiki App

Got back from Montreal and RoCoCo 2007 last Friday with a pile of notes and a case of the flu, which pretty much killed my productivity this weekend. Fortunately, spring conference season for me is over, and I’m boycotting all summer conferences with the possible exception of Wikimania in Taipei this August, which means I’ve got plenty of time to digest and regurgitate. As usual, it’ll come in bits and pieces, starting with this post.    (MAV)

RoCoCo pretty much kicked butt. Much props go to Evan Prodromou, Anne Goldenberg, Antoine Beaupre, and the entire Montreal Wiki community for pulling off such a great event. Lots of participants traveled to attend, including several Europeans, which made the experience much richer. This included representatives from every PHP-based Wiki (Tim Starling of Mediawiki, Andreas Gohr of Doku Wiki, Reini Urban of PhpWiki, Patrick Michaud of PmWiki, and Marc Laporte of TikiWiki), which was awesome. I was happy to see old friends from afar and from not-so-far, and I met several great new folks. WikiOhana is a wonderful thing.    (MAW)

The best session was Evan’s, “Wiki And…,” which he nefariously scheduled at the same time as my Wiki Interoperability session so I couldn’t attend. That didn’t prevent me from learning about his incredibly brilliant idea: WikiClock, made possible by Gordon McCreight‘s most excellent service,    (MAX)

What is WikiClock? It’s a clock on a Wiki that tells you the current time in GMT. How does it know the current time? Someone edits the time. Who edits it? Whoever feels so motivated.    (MAY)

WikiClock is a great example of a totally ludicrous application of a Wiki. The point of Evan’s session is that Wiki-enthusiasm can lead to overly narrow thinking. Wikis are great, but they’re not the end-all-and-be-all of collaborative tools. There are a whole slew of good tools out there. Use the right one for the right job.    (MAZ)

The story doesn’t end there, however. What makes WikiClock all the more ridiculous is that people are actually using it. You heard me right. The buzz from Evan’s session started propagating pretty quickly. If you check WikiClock right now, chances are the time is correct. And if it’s not, well, correct it!    (MB0)

WikiClock is that rare breed of joke, where you laugh, then you stop and think, “You know, it’s really not that bad of an idea.” Next thing you know, it’s no longer a joke. I know of only one other joke like it: Parrot, the virtual machine for dynamic languages that started off as an April Fool’s joke.    (MB1)

Gordon McCreight showed off his latest silly creation,, at the last WikiWednesday. It’s a silly concept, and it’s got a silly lack of features. What’s really silly is how useful this silly little concept is. It’s considerably simpler than Writeboard, slightly more featureful than the various Pastebins, and better than both.    (M4D) is a collaborative text editor on laxatives. All features you might think you need have been flushed away to oblivion. There’s no formatting, no registration, and no security. Editing happens in plain text. The URLs are human-friendly, which is good, because you’ll need to remember them if you ever want to find them again. Gordon does have a remind feature, in which you describe what’s on the page, and then he tries to find it for you.    (M4E)

It’s great for when a bunch of people — especially normal people — need to edit a file together quickly and easily. You don’t have to go through the normal hullabaloo of logging in, because you don’t have to login. You don’t have to describe the markup, because there is no markup. It’s totally task-focused.    (M4F)

This, in theory, is what Writeboard was supposed to be, except I think it’s a whole lot better. When I use Writeboard, I’m constantly reminded of what it’s not, as opposed to being excited over what it is. Writeboards are no easier than a Wiki to use, but they’re much less useful.    (M4G)

I love pastebin (known as nopaste in some circles) for a lot of reasons. Pastebin emerged because developers collaborating on IRC needed a Shared Display. It’s brain-dead simple, and it does exactly what it’s supposed to do. addresses a different goal than pastebin, but it has similar affordances, and could be used the same way.    (M4H)

Gordon has been militant about feature creep, which is a good thing. That said, I started a page suggesting new features. Feel free to add those there. Or, if you prefer not to think about such esoteric things, you can add some Philadelphia-area restaurants and reviews to my Philly restaurants page. (I’m visiting Philly for the first time next weekend, and I need some good cheesesteak recommendations.)    (M4I)