Some coincidences…. First, the Chartered Institute of Building magazine, Construction Manager, recently published an article by me looking at some of the latest examples of construction-specific social media tools (see It’s Social, but it’s still media). Next, on Wednesday evening, I travelled to Chelmsford to talk to the Essex branch of the CIOB about social media. And today I got an email telling me about a CIOB-backed Wiki project called DesigningBuildings.com.
As regular readers will know, I am something of a fan of Wikis, having been a Wikipedia editor since October 2003. I mentioned wiki technology in my CM article – referencing the OpenBuildings.com project (post) – and in my CIOB talk, where I also talked about RIBApedia (see August 2008 post on my ExtranetEvolution blog), and internal wikis (among others).
DesigningBuildings appears to have some similar aspirations to OpenBuildings, RIBApedia and the short-lived BSD Wiki (launched in April 2009, terminated in November 2009). It is looking to collate knowledge and expertise about building design and development, for clients, practitioners and students in the UK:
“… if we pool what we do know, we will all have better access to information, we will all make fewer mistakes and other people (like clients for example) will have a better understanding of what we do.”
Content is crowd-sourced from contributors who volunteer articles, and can, if they wish, be listed as the article’s author, so that when people search for information, they may also find the expert (unlike Wikipedia, DesigningBuildings wiki articles can also be locked to prevent further editing). Contributors can also remain anonymous and articles can also be left open for further edits.
The venture is sponsored by the CIOB and four others: property developer Development Securities PLC, engineer Buro Happold, architect Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners, and The College of Estate Management. Co-founder David Trench tells me “We launched in July this year, have 530 pages of articles and are achieving over 60,000 page hits per month.” The site also has links from Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube.
Of course, with just 530 pages of articles, the project is barely skimming the surface of the potential subject matter (even if it has restricted its main focus to the UK), and it has a list of subjects about which it is seeking articles, and the home page helpfully lists six categories of content to get you started:
- project plans
However, DesigningBuildings also warns against using the site for self-promotion, insisting that it’s “an online, collaborative encyclopedia, not a magazine. It presents facts not commentary.” It continues:
Designing Buildings Wiki is not the place for self promotion. Articles do not include marketing information or information about specific brands, although brand information can be included on user pages and we do invite advertising adjacent to articles to help pay for the running costs of the site….”
Like Wikipedia, it also has notability guidelines, requiring coverage of the chosen subject in reliable, independent sources, and I dare say it will quickly have to develop some detailed policies to enforce these and other guidelines about what users can and cannot do or say, and how content is presented and referenced. I can see that the site may quickly prove attractive as an additional place for social media-savvy individuals and companies to expand their content marketing strategies, but it will be interesting to see how the quality and neutrality of content is moderated and maintained, and if it can achieve the necessary critical mass to become regarded as a useful and comprehensive reference tool.
Meanwhile, I can also update my social media presentation to include another Wiki example!