At Redmond, Wikipedia becomes Micropedia

A pair of Microsoft researchers find that the engine that powers Wikipedia makes for a nice way to track internal people and projects. Sorry SharePoint team...

REDMOND, Wash.--Aiming to build on the metaphor popularized by Wikipedia, a pair of Microsoft researchers have built Micropedia, an internal wiki cataloging every person and project within the company.

Microsoft researcher Steve Ickman said while the company's internal SharePoint site is great for some uses, there are some features that the Wikipedia engine has that are missing in Microsoft's product. One big thing is the engine's ability to archive. On the SharePoint site, typically only the current status of a project is shown.

"Once it's gone, it's gone," Ickman said of the SharePoint site. Micropedia, on the other hand, retains a sense of history, noting a past project and who worked on it, even if it involved people no longer at the company.

"I am a huge fan of wikis," he said. To populate the site, Microsoft Research's Tom Laird-McConnell mined the company's directory, creating a page for each employee as well as a page for each project that someone is or has been working on. The site allows anyone in the company to comment on a person or project and also displays in a separate pane any information found on the public Wikipedia.

Laird-McConnell said that by making the Wiki available company-wide, it would be easier for people in one part of Microsoft to know what those in other parts of the company are doing. Microsoft's current tools are largely organized by teams and are heavily permission-based.

"There's very little cross-collaboration," he said.

The Micropedia approach is similar conceptually to a tool used within Google where any employee can see what any colleague is working on.

For now, fewer than a dozen people, all in research, are using Micropedia, but its creators would like it to see it used throughout the company.

Microsoft has a wiki. Ina Fried / CNET Networks
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