I was talking to my colleague Harold Jarche the other day about the changes in work needs and it triggered a thought. Normally, when we talk about performance support and collaboration, we think of creating job aids. Yet I believe that, increasingly, interactive performance support will be more valuable in generating meaningful outcomes. It occurred to me that there was a missed opportunity: editable wizards.
Now, when I talk about wizards, I mean software tools that interact with us to ask some questions and then can use that information to do complex things for us like filling out our taxes or configure our email. This is fine for things that are static, but increasingly, things are dynamic. The question then becomes how we make more flexible, less brittle, tools.
In content, we are using wikis as tools that are open for collaborative updating. Wikipedia of course being the best known example. These are powerful ways for a community to keep a body of knowledge up to date. Can we have an intersection?
The idea that occurred to me was to have collaborative wizards; wizards written in a simple but reasonably powerful language that are open for editing. Rather than Wikzard, I thought I’d call it a Wizki (pronounced “whisky”, of course :).
Admittedly, having a simple but powerful language is non-trivial, but then I was reminded of HyperCard (which several of us reminisced about fondly just a short while ago). HyperCard was a simple environment to build applications in, with the property of ‘incremental advantage‘ that Andi diSessa touted years ago. Imagine having a collaborative HyperCard! It could be done.
Of course, there are other simple programming environments (Scratch comes to mind), but we really need a simple (and cross-platform!) environment to develop applications again, and moreover a collaborative one is the next logical step in user-generated content.
I reckon it is past time to develop passive content, and start sharing interactions. What do you say?