:: Karoo Confucius

By: The Unknown Author


‘wiki’ is an internet word. One could thnk it stands for:

What I Know Is …

This should be easy, right? No secrets … must mean no passwords. Yay! Wikipedia says

“A wiki (/ˈwɪki/ (listen) WIK-ee) is a hypertext publication collaboratively edited and managed by its own audience directly. A typical wiki contains multiple pages for the subjects or scope of the project and could be either open to the public or limited to use within an organization for maintaining its internal knowledge base”

Wait, it is suddenly not sounding so relaxed. Wikipedia continues, saying:

“Wikis are enabled by wiki software, otherwise known as wiki engines. A wiki engine, being a form of a content management system, differs from other web-based systems such as blog software, in that the content is created without any defined owner or leader, and wikis have little inherent structure, allowing structure to emerge according to the needs of the users”

So, can we think of a wiki (since it is a collaboration) as democratic writing? It sounds easy, when you read Widipedia. Long ago,trying to evince what a wiki was all about (convinced back then it stood for What I Know Is), and despite his years of programming in Pascal and its namby-pamby descendant, VBA (Visual Basic for Applications), Jasper could not just dive in and do the democratic, wiki, writing, thing.

It’s not that there is any codified mystery to it. That’s not the impedance at all. The impedance for him was why would anyone want to do this?

Lately, though, we can see a possible purpose. Taking Hanglip for an example, and supposing just for a minute that, on being sold, the sale is to a buyer who is totally ignorant of the lie of the Hanglip land. Now, let’s once again, that the staff of Hanglip are literate, keen on writing, and computer-savvy. These are just the very ingredients it would take to knock up a wiki as a knowledge base of Hanglip, for the new owner(s).

Now, fly on the wall, we check out the owner’s eager intent. We see the him sit down at his trusty laptop.

“Hanglip - the part I played in its downfall” he mutters, and chortles. Taking a sip of coffee, and dunking a rusk (Ouma’s recipe), he opens the wiki file created by his trusty side-man. They have walked a literary and activist path for close to sixty years. And now, the owner is asked for his email address. That’s second nature. In it goes. Next, he is asked by the malevolent graphomania basking on the screen to enter his password.

He stares at the screen. What the Actual … ? He has been using his email for decades, without ever yet being asked for a password. He can’t remember it, and can’t even begin to work out how to find out what it is.

And, there you have it. That’s the end of collaborating online.

When one has grown up writing, spent decades on newspapers, and steeped oneself in printing and paper, not once has any such thing as a password entered upon the scene. The trouble is, passwords and secrecy are an anathema to this man, who without knowing it, is a born hacker. Hackers hate secrets. They are not happy unless they are breaking open padlocks, software vaults, government spook archives, anything secret. This man is as radical as them.

Passowrds, though, are the way of computers. Back in the day they were about costs, not privacy. Computer time was hideously expensive, and one had to book time on a computer. For this, the notion of “user accounts” came about, so that users’ computer dalliance could be tracked, and charged for.

Bean counters rule.

Here we have the single main impedance to natural writing (or anything) on computer, something that either stymies or raises the hackles, or both, of a person who for years wrote freely on good old paper. Back in the day, we pulled out a typewriter and got cracking. No passwords. And we didn’t care about all the trees we used. In the early, innocent days of MS-DOS, it was the same. Load, (beep) and type.

The old mainframe and Unix preoccupation with passwords for accounting purposes morphed into a more sinister need: the weakness of the MS-DOS (so-called) Operating System was an open invitation to virus writers at first, and then to crackers. Here, I don’t mean American white people. ‘Crackers’ are the ‘bad hackers’. Hackers are super-clever with computers, and like prying things open. The ‘cracker’ takes things a step further, also opening things, but concentrates on bank accounts, which they then set about emptying of their hard-saved lucre. Or, they hack data for blackmail, or demand a ransom for freeing it up.

So, there went our wiki.

The new owner of the farm will not get the shared knowledge of water reticulation, water cribs and electricity supply points, , internet antennae, windmills and submersible pumps, roads, fences, gates, weirs and dams, in any new fangled way. With the coming of the Internet of Things, this could be gleaned from the stoep, flying camera drones (what fun!) but until then, s/he will clamber into a jeep, bakkie or onto a horse, and set off, doing things the old fashioned way. The best way, according to the Chinese. Confucius say:

Farmer’s Footprints, Finest Fertiliser on Farm?

Now there is an alliteration for you.

Back to top
  • About