Old School Tech

I use LibraryThing to track my reading and connect with a community of readers. I joined soon after it began in late 2005. The site has grown and changed with the times–including recently adding AI search–but at its base, it uses a wiki, built on MediaWiki software (think Wikipedia), for community collaboration. Groups use it to track members as well as communal reading. And, I was reminded recently by a friend, individual users are welcome to create pages.

Turns out I had done so in 2010…and, as with many of those experiments, I wrote some text as proof of concept and then never returned. I didn’t have a purpose in mind.

Today, however, I went back and considered ways I might incorporate those wiki pages into my reading life. I started by creating a page where I could track the various series I read. Like many avid readers, I have started a variety of series, mostly mysteries, but then lost track of them, perhaps losing interest in the character or just forgetting about them as time goes on. There are a few that I do keep up with, something that is a bit easier to do by following authors and getting alerts when new books are coming. I have an analog day book where I have listed the various series but, in an effort to downsize generally, I’m moving the list to the wiki. I track my books on LT, and they have pages for the series that show which ones you have read. I was able to copy and paste those lists into the wiki page for easy editing. It also helps that I know html and wiki syntax.

I have an affinity for wikis, I think, because I was there when they started and have grown up with them, hosting a few on my own server, playing with early ones like pbwiki and wikispaces, watching Wikipedia become an international collaborative community. They can seem clunky with their old school code, but I think the stripped down format helps us focus on the important part: creating and collaborating largely through text. Again, that may seem old-fashioned in a world of multimedia, but at its heart, multimedia is text-based. Someone writes those words that are spoken, and wikis allow us to grapple with how best to put them together to express our communal knowledge and ideas.

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