Above the Below the DoubleLine: Refactoring and that Old-Time Revision

"Above and Below the DoubleLine: Refactoring and that Old Time Revision" has been published in Writing Wiki: Collaborative Learning in the College Classroom, Matthew Barton and Robert Cummings, eds., U Michigan Press.  

  • Read the U Mich Press blurb.

Eventually, we hope the book will be available on digital culture books.  Until then, you can buy the book, or read a varient of my contribution on WildWiki.net. 



Here is a mantra for wiki authors:

    Writing on a wiki proceeds from ThreadMode to DocumentMode by way of Refactoring.” 

And here is how I explain it to students familiar with composing but new to wikis:

    Writing on a wiki – because it’s collaborative - changes not just what we write but how we write, and so we change the way we talk about the process. ThreadMode is a discussion. It’s a little like prewriting to generate topics and positions and arguments. DocumentMode is an exposition, and it’s a little like drafting an essay by drawing together the threads in ThreadMode. And Refactoring is something like revising, and something like reorganizing, and something like clearing away the tea table for another course. The word comes from computer programming. 

When I introduce the process, with its odd terms, I feel like Humpty Dumpty explaining Jabberwocky to Alice.

    “But why do you smash some words together?” Alice asks. 

    “Those are WikiWords. They are a little like portmanteau words. On a wiki, WikiWords signal links to new topics that are open for elaboration. You follow the link.” 

Writing on a wiki means returning to a topic periodically to see what is developing. It means authors enter a page to work with the emerging text in a variety of ways. An author may refactor one section of a page, then go to another page and add to an emerging thread. She may add a WikiWord to still another page, point out a link from one topic to another, and then go have a cup of coffee to return to the wiki later to see what happened. A reader senses a difference, something left out, or an alternative way of thinking. She becomes an author and declares a new topic by creating a WikiWord on a page, going to the new page, and setting out some ideas, a summary, a direction for that page. The WikiWord is now a topic: a potential to be filled. She announces the existence of the topic. Or not. The topic appears in Recent Changes and the Index.