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March 18, 2005 / jnolen

The Professor and the Wiki

Lawrence Lessig has decided to revise his excellent book Code and Other Laws of Cyberspace for a second edition. But here's the interesting bit — he's not revising it; we are. It's put the book up in a wiki and said, "Have at it, 'net." This is a tremendous application for a wiki, and the book that Prof. Lessig has chosen is a prefect subject for this kind of experiment.

The good professor, in his eminent wisdom, has chosen JotSpot to run his wiki. JotSpot, of course, gets some lovely publicity out of the deal. Some folks might complain that he has chosen a non-free product to host his project, but Prof. Lessig seems much more concerned with free content than with free software. And as the FAQ explains:

We chose Jotspot because it makes it easy for people to start contributing content immediately using their existing skills. JotSpot offers features such as an advanced WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) page editor and integration with  Microsoft Office. In addition, JotSpot provides simple, integrated applications to support the collaboration process, including a blog for posting and syndicating side discussions on the work, and instant messaging presence indicators for easily recognizing which contributors are active/online.

I was planning a post about how I didn't actually think that JotSpot was the best choice for this particular application, not for political reasons but for functional ones. However, after looking at the Code wiki, I have to say it looks great.

Either Prof. Lessig has a much more advanced version of the software than I do on my beta site, or someone did some serious customization to the stock JotSpot wiki. The most important new feature is that each page has a "Page" and a "Discussion" tab, much like MediaWiki. This is, I think, absolutely critical for the kind of project that Prof. Lessig is undertaking. They've also added some additional user management features and done a totally custom skin for the site. As I said, It looks great. Congratulations to the guys at Jot for supporting such a worthwhile project.

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