Day 15 – O: Open Source

Open source denotes that a product includes permission to use its source code, design documents, or content (Source: Wikipedia). As a knowledge professional, I have always been fascinated by the concept and one of the key principles which governs it. Yes, I am referring to the principle of ‘collaboration’, which is the cornerstone of the open source concept.

Open source, as a concept has had a big impact on Knowledge Management as a discipline and the number of open source applications which deal with knowledge sharing, collaboration etc. is one the rise. For today’s post, I wanted to share one of them, namely, TWiki. So what exactly is TWiki? It is an enterprise wiki which facilitates the flow of information within an organisation and enables people to work together. A key differentiator of TWiki is that it allows users to update content on the fly and moves away from the syndrome of a webmaster or a content management team taking care of the content.

TWiki is a refined version of wiki and one of its greatest strengths is flexibility. Organisations that have deployed TWiki have improvised and used it in many different ways. Some of these include:
• Allow employees to take charge of the content and update it on a needs basis (an ‘Edit’ link is provided at the bottom of every page)
• A dynamic FAQ solution. TakeFive Software’s support engineers had used it to create issue based entries which were updated on an ongoing basis. Over a period of time the section became a first port of call for support engineers while responding to customer queries. Please click here to read more
• Collaborate on topics of mutual interest. A great example of that is Biowiki which was set up for computational biology projects of UC Berkeley
• An internal message board for organisations

TWiki’s popularity as a web-based collaboration system could be attributed to its simplicity. It allows a user to edit / create new pages via any web browser. Pages could be linked automatically without the need be conversant of HTML commands. The system has a built in search functionality which is quite robust and should be able to meet the needs of most users. An audit trail in the form of revision control allows one to identify what got changed when and by whom. But the feature which I was most impressed with pertains to TWiki forms which enable one to convert unstructured pages to simple workflow systems.

The official TWiki site states that the system has been downloaded more than 500,000 times and has users from more than 100+ countries. The list of organisations that have used TWiki is impressive and ranges from individuals to small businesses and Fortune 500 companies.

TWiki has been developed by a community which operates on the principle of ‘open source’. To know more, please visit http://twiki.org/

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