Thing 21: Wiki on a stick

Many wikis are big. Wikipedia is enormous. The library has two Wikis: the library wiki, which runs on Mediawiki, the same software as Wikipedia, and the E-resource Wiki, which runs on Semantic Mediawiki, which allows you to set up forms to simplify entry and to query the data like a database. All of these need a server to run on.

You can also get tiny wikis: wikis meant for personal use or sharing with a small group, and which don’t need a server. They are sometimes called ‘wiki on a stick’, because you can carry one on a USB stick. Some people use them for simple note taking, some for presentations, some for collaborative work.

The best known one is TiddlyWiki.  It is easy to use, but takes a little setting up – recent browsers (especially Firefox) have problems allowing it to save until you configure them.  If you set one up on your Y drive you will be able to use it from your work computer too, but if using Internet Explorer you will need to make some changes to the security settings.

First, go into ‘Tools’ in the Explorer menu, select ‘Internet Options’,  then ‘Security’, then ‘Local Intranet’, and pull the slider bar down to ‘low’. Click ‘Apply’, then restart Explorer.

Next go to the TiddlyWiki site and download TiddlyWiki, using ‘Save As’ to put it on the Y drive. When its there, right click on the  zip file and select ‘Extract All’. Finally right click on the file called empty.html, select ‘Properties’, and set ‘Unblock’ followed by ‘Apply’.

That’s it. The wiki is the html file called empty.html. You can rename it if you like, copy it around, email it, or save it on other drives. To run it double click on it and your browser will open to show it.

TiddlyWiki works on small chunks called ‘tiddlers’, which can be anything from a sentence to a page long. Writing in a tiddler is very similar to writing in Mediawiki: mostly plain text, with links in double square brackets. TiddlyWiki comes with some built-in tiddlers (called ‘shadow tiddlers’ ) which control the look of the page: when you first start you are invited to edit these, and so change what you see when TiddlyWiki starts.

Suggestion: change the title, change or remove the subtitle, add a new tiddler called ‘Home’, and hide the StartingPage so you just see your new Home tiddler when you open the wiki.

If you liked TiddlyWiki, there are a lot of variations of it for different purposes, such as managing TODO lists or organizing notes for novels. http://giffmex.tiddlyspot.com/ has a list.

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