I'm not sure it's possible to have a dignified name for a wiki.

Looking over recent posts, you would think that my opinion on things mattered. I'm all pretentious and stuff. Time for some more properly nerdy things.

Wikipedia is the most famous example of the concept of a wiki:

A wiki is a page or collection of Web pages designed to enable anyone who accesses it to contribute or modify content, using a simplified markup language. Wikis are often used to create collaborative websites and to power community websites. The collaborative encyclopedia Wikipedia is one of the best-known wikis. Wikis are used in business to provide intranet and Knowledge Management systems. Ward Cunningham, developer of the first wiki software, WikiWikiWeb, originally described it as "the simplest online database that could possibly work"

When I first read about them, and this would have been three or four years ago, I thought to myself, "Huh."

As this site's very existence proclaims, I am fascinated by interesting software, within which sphere I include things such as Drupal (which powers this site), PersonalBrain, and web servers and databases and, well, wikis.

Actually playing with wikis, however, I quickly grew frustrated. I installed MediaWiki (the software that powers Wikipedia) on my own server, but it seemed like massive overkill for my needs, whatever they turned out to be. I tend to test out solutions and then see if I can find a lovely problem for them to solve--that's how this site started--but I couldn't fathom a problem large enough to need a MediaWiki to solve.

[Please, rabid wikipedians, do not hunt me down and ruin my life. I'm just saying that I'm not worthy of using your very fine software.]

Anyway, fast forward a few years and I happened upon a wiki solution contained within a single HTML file. No database, no web server--a single file that edits itself using some very clever javascript.

TiddlyWiki bills itself as "a reusable non-linear personal web notebook," which is a pretty good summary of how I've been using it. Because it's all one file, there's a slight delay on initial load, and then it's very responsive--it feels quick.

At work, I've been using it to track my time on a day to day basis, manage a "to do" list, and document work processes. That last is particularly critical, since a) my job is kind of complex and I forget how to do it after a week on leave and b) I might soon be training my replacement. Other people use it to collaborate, create web pages (the TiddlyWiki site is itself a TiddlyWiki), and lots of other clever things. I showed it to Sunbeam, and she immediately grasped the implications for things like journaling and outlining stories and whatnot.

To use it, you simply download and save the .html file, then open it in a browser. There's no installation, really, and only minimal configuration for basic use, but there are lots of plugins and hacks and scripts and even modified "distros" containing collections of plugins. This evening I started messing with one called MPTW, short for MonkeyPirateTiddlyWiki, which includes a more advanced tagging system and several other enhancements.

Now with a name like MonkeyPirateTiddlyWiki, how can you not try this out?

Seriously, this is cool.