Tools, like people, don’t always do what you’d like. Tools also wear out. And sometimes, after acquiring a tool, you see work differently and realize the tool isn’t the right one for you.
If you were in the mood for wine, as an example, and had ever used the tool in the photo, you’d know you’d be better off switching to beer.
Several people I know have been lamenting the lack of a useful tool for tracking the comments you make on blogs. I had been using CoComment, but have given up. The odds on its tracking a given comment seem to be subject to a random-number generator.
I learned the other day about a massive data loss at Ma.gnolia, a social bookmarking site like delicious. This reinforced my feeling that (a) it’s better to host things on my own domain, and (b) it’s good to be paranoid about backup.
But that leads to another question. Some time back, I installed MediaWiki on my website, just for myself. I wanted to see how the wiki-admin machinery worked, and I thought it might be useful to keep some of my own notes there.
Mediawiki’s an awfully blunt instrument, and I’m wondering about flexibility: how might I extract my data from this format into something else, if I wanted to do that?
So I’m interested in what you might be doing along similar lines. Should I consider blog software? I’d have no hesitation setting up another instance of WordPress, making it available just to me, and putting things there. But I’m not sure that’s quite the way to go.
The CTQs (critical-to-quality elements) I have in mind are:
- Accessability (not limited to my own computer)
- Privacy (this is not-ready-for-publication stuff)
- Automatic (or really, really easy) search, indexing, tagging
And, if possible, an escape from MediaWiki markup, which to me looks like a cross between COBOL and Tourette’s syndrome.
All of which brought to mind George Carlin on managing your personal learning environment:
Corkscrew photo by BGLewandowski.
Front-end loader photo by kimberleyfaye.
6 thoughts on “Which pegboard for your knowledge tools?”
I too have searched for a similar solution – and could not find something for free – but for $5/month Wikispaces.com could be your solution – via their “Plus Plan.” I’m using the free plan currently.
That’s not bad, Guy. What I’m particularly interested in (and maybe needlessly so) is how I might get my data OUT of some format in order to put it into another.
I ran into a small version of this when I switched ISPs for my blog. Due to a quirk of mySQL (the database underneath WordPress), certain combinations of characters and spaces (like a quote mark followed by a space) turned into foreign characters like this:
There apparently isn’t an easy (or even rational) way to edit this stuff within the mySQL control tools, or to export it all, correct it in a word processor, and import it back.
That’s extreme, but I’m wondering about what happens if MediaWiki gets too weird, or I find another tool — the most stuff I have (as Carlin notes), the more I worry about the places where I keep my stuff.
You might try Dokuwiki (http://dokuwiki.org). It’s a free, open source app that I’ve been using several years now for the same purposes you’re describing. It has a simple, but powerful syntax; it’s php-based; and it uses SQLite as its database. So you just install the Dokuwiki files and it’s ready to run without the hassle of a separate database.
I think it meets all of the requirements you listed. I even have mine set up to force ssl on login.
Thanks, Steve. We use CTQ as shorthand around the house, both to be droll and because it became habitual for me during my time at GE–but it’s also a reminder for me to think about what’s important. I appreciate your suggestion, and I’ll give it a try.
(I took the liberty of altering your comment so that Dokuwiki’s address is a hyperlink.)
Just to be accurate, I read the site for the first time in a while and realized that they haven’t implemented SQLite yet, but still use plain text files (even better for accessibility).
I’ve got mySQL already (not that I spend much time down there); it’s required for WordPress. (To any novices reading this: mySQL is a database my ISP provides, not something I have to do anything with.) I browsed the link quickly, and saw that Dokuwiki supports both HTML and PHP.
My PHP skills are monkey-see-monkey-do (e.g., a piece of code I pick up from the WordPress Codex), but I remember a lot more HTML than I do Wiki markup.