Wow. I’ve been thinking my web design and web aesthetics students next semester need to use wikis. But I’d worried wikis were hard to set up. Well, no. The Wikipedia’s entry on wiki software recommended QwikiWiki as extremely easy to install, no frills, simple wiki software, and by Jove they’re right. It took five minutes, and simply consisted of uploading 57kb of files to a directory on a server that runs PHP and following the very simple instructions. Finally you use a text editor to change the admin name and the password in the _config.php file and there you are: a wiki of your own. Looks like it’ll do everything I want. You can edit the template and the CSS, and it’ll accept regular HTML tags (unless you bar them), which I really like, and, well, it looks good enough.
I’ve decided I want to throw my students into the web till they learn to swim. Sure, they’ll get the basic HTML and CSS skills, but I’m not going to try and make them experts at anything. Instead I’ll expose them to as many fascinating new ways of thinking and writing and making and living online as I possibly can, knowing that next year it’ll all be different anyway. Learning how to learn to use and assess the usefulness of online stuff is a skill they’re going to need. And they can hone their HTML and CSS skills by reading a book or website: ideas and creativity and strangeness and surprises are harder to come by.
So I’m thinking Blogger.com blogs (no comment spam, no setup for me, they own it completely; no trackbacks but c’mon, comment spam is too high a price to pay), a fictional “reality show” project in Flickr (no, I’ve not quite figured that one out yet, but I can just feel that it’d be cool), make something collaboratively in a wiki, maybe contribute something to the Norwegian version of the WikiPedia, and then the standard group website project but using a web-based project management site to experience that kind of group interaction, and hopefully, help the groups to work together better. And no, the university’s CMS won’t do all those things. No single system will.