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Quick! Quick! Collaborate!

JotSpot took a page from the Microsoft playbook and added a knowledge worker-friendly user interface to its JotSpot 2.0 wiki platform this week.  A wiki - "wiki wiki" is Hawaiian for "hurry quick" - is a Web page that allows users to add and edit content collaboratively; the term also refers to the software platform that supports wikis.  According to the Wikipedia, the first wiki, WikiWikiWeb, was named after the "Wiki Wiki" line of Chance RT-52 buses in Honolulu International Airport, Hawaii.

JotSpot, a Wiki company, announced JotSpot 2.0 this week. The new version of the company's Wiki platform goes beyond traditional wiki boundaries (i.e. facilitating collaboration on textual information) by adding pre-defined page types which allow the creation of collaborative calendars, spreadsheets, file repositories, documents, and photo galleries.  The spreadsheet tool supports formulas, the ability to wrap text in a cell, copy and paste support, and the ability to 'shift-click' to select a range of cells; the calendar page type allows users to create shared calendars; the file repository page type supports filing sharing; the photo gallery page support allows the creation of pages with images and photographs (uploaded images are displayed as thumbnails and a slide show).  A link picker allows knowledge workers to create links to pages inside and outside of the wiki as well as to documents within the wiki.  An updated permission model gives complete control over who sees what information on a page-by-page basis.

But wikis aren't that common yet, although they are easy to deploy and offer a good knowledge sharing and collaboration platform for organizations that have limited IT resources.  One reason is that they remain too democratic, my colleague Jonathan Spira reminded me in a conversation yesterday.  "Anyone," he noted, "can edit anything in a traditional wiki.  This scares a lot of managers and CIOs."

What JotSpot is doing is making wikis easier to use by moving the wiki technology closer to an interface most users are familiar with.  

In a prepared statement, Joe Kraus, co-founder and CEO of JotSpot, had the following to say about their new offering: "JotSpot has redefined what a wiki is by removing the limitations of traditional wikis and marrying the wiki metaphor with some of the capabilities of Microsoft Office.  We've combined the familiarity and functionality of desktop applications like Office with the collaborative power and flexibility of wikis so users can quickly and easily collaborate on all types of information."

Ultimately, wikis may prove very valuable to smaller organizations in need of good knowledge sharing and collaboration tools but lacking large IT departments.  Only time will tell if a wiki suite is the right solution, but it sounds like JotSpot is making it easier for companies of all sizes to avail themselves of tools which previously only a large company might have in place.

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