Monday, May 11, 2009

A Paper Research Wiki

I guess "wiki for a research paper" would have been a better name, In any case, I first thought it referred to a paper wiki, which would have been a truly new idea, sort of in the tradition of "Hipster PDA."

The claim is that jumping "blindly into a wiki, and ... creating pages left and right ... building a page for every idea or piece of information, with few internal links," will not bring much benefit." Structure is supposed to be the answer.

I am not sure the proposed structure (and especially the limits on which level may link to which other level) ultimately makes sense. Creating pages without worrying about how they ultimately fit in and breaking down information into simpler parts seems to me to make for the strength of wikis. Of course, you then have to think about it, re-factor, establish links, etc. The index card method also required re-ordering and thinking before, or, perhaps better: while writing. Indeed breaking down the information according to the method "one fact, one card" made for part of its strength. Same thing with wikis.

But judge for yourself. It's an interesting idea, which would (or wouldn't) work with a personal desktop wiki just as much (or little) as with a hosted wiki.

1 comment:

cian said...

While I don't use precisely this method, I use something similar. I don't use it for everything, only notes on reference material and data (video transcripts, interviews, etc).

So the first level is the raw material. Notes on articles/books (with page numbers and refererences), video transcripts.

The second level is where I try to bring related material together into themes. The third level is where I develop my ideas.

The advantage of this method is that it exposes the architecture and development of your ideas, which is particularly useful if you go back to the source material (or indeed reference that).

On the other hand for my own personal ideas I use something far more freeform.