FedWiki for collaborative analysis of data

A FedWiki page presents one or more wiki pages side by side. This arrangement is called the lineup. During interactive use of FedWiki the lineup grows rightward as you navigate the federation. But you can also compose a lineup by forming an URL that describes a purposeful arrangement of wiki pages. In Federated Wiki for teaching and learning basic composition I composed two lineups. The first compares two versions of a page on Kate Bowles’ FedWiki site. The second compares two versions of that page from two different sites: mine and Kate’s. With these two lineups I’m exploring the notion that FedWiki could be a writers’ studio in which students watch their own paragraphs evolve, and also overlay suggestions from teachers (or other students).

In that example the order of wiki pages in the lineup isn’t important. You can compare versions left-to-right or right-to-left. But here’s another example where left-to-right sequence matters:

Link: Favorite Broccoli Recipes

URL: http://jon.sf.fedwikihappening.net/view/italian-broccoli/view/broccoli-fried-with-sesame-and-raspberry/view/favorite-broccoli-recipes

Rendering:

The tables shown in these wiki pages are made by a data plugin that accumulates facts and performs calculations. FedWiki has explored a number of these data plugins. This one implements the little language that you can see in these views of the text that lives in those embedded plugins:

On the Italian Broccoli page:

5 (calories) per (garlic clove)
200 (calories) per (bunch of broccoli)
SUM Italian Broccoli (calories)

On the Broccoli Fried With Sesame and Raspberry page:

100 (calories) per (tbsp sesame seed oil)
34 (calories) per (100 grams broccoli)

And:

3 (tbsp sesame seed oil)
SUM (calories)
1 (100 grams broccoli)
SUM Broccoli Fried With Sesame Oil (calories)

On the Favorite Broccoli Recipes page:

Italian Broccoli (calories)

And:

Broccoli Fried With Sesame Oil (calories)

Other plugins implement variations on this little language, and it’s surprisingly easy to create new ones. What I’m especially drawing attention to here, though, is that the lineup of wiki pages forms a left-to-right pipeline. Facts and calculations flow not only downward within a wiki page, but also rightward through a pipeline of wiki pages.

And that pipeline, as we’ve seen, can be composed of pages from one site, or of pages drawn from several sites. I could provide one set of facts, you could provide an alternative set of facts, anyone could build a pipeline that evaluates both. It’s a beautiful way to enable the collaborative production and analysis of data.

4 Comments

  1. The lineup is an elegant and powerful facility. And the data plugin facility is very exciting. The latter reminds me of JotSpot. JotSpot offered the ability to put structured data on wiki pages and then to search/filter/aggregate across them. JotSpot was acquired by Google in 2006 and the structured data features were removed (hidden) soon thereafter. This structured data stuff blurs the line between my document web and my applications.

  2. One challenge for the lineup is, of course, that it is not even remotely mobile-friendly, and it’s hard (for me, anyway, and for now, anyway) to imagine it becoming so. But it will nonetheless be useful to try to imagine that.

    1. We were experimenting for a while with a large active page and smaller thumbnail pages running down the side. I couldn’t get the glitches out of the CSS in time for the happening, but it might be a model for mobile, at least on phablets and tablets.

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