FORwiki:The Foresight Wiki
The Foresight Wiki is a web-based, collaborative project supported by the Executive Agency for Higher Education and Research Funding from Romania, and developed during the project Quality and Leadership for Romanian Higher Education. The name indicates that the wiki technology for developing collaborative websites is being used. This allows members of the Future Studies & Foresight community of practice to write articles that any other member can edit.
The underlying philosophy
The Foresight Wiki employs the open editing model where every article may be created or edited by any registered user, and changes to an existing article become instantly available without review. No article is owned by its creator or any other editor; all the articles are collectively owned by the FORwiki community. Only the FORwiki Guidelines and Policies are restricted from editing, and changes can be made only by the Administrator after a consensus among members was reached. Other than that, any user of the Foresight Wiki can take advantage of features made available by MediaWiki, the software that powers the Foresight Wiki. The "Discussion" pages associated with each article represent an essential component of the platform, as they materialize the dialogical nature of the Foresight Wiki. They allow coordination among multiple editors, and foster debate among the members of the FORwiki community. Also, there is a "History" page attached to each article, recording every single past revision, making it easy to compare old and new versions and undo changes that an editor considers undesirable, or restore lost content. It is recommended that each member keeps a "watchlist" of articles of interest to them, so that they can easily keep tabs on all recent changes to those articles.
However, even though the Foresight Wiki is supported by the same software as Wikipedia and most of the other wiki websites developed all-around the world, its underlying philosophy is radically different. After all, the Foresight Wiki is targeting a limited number of established experts, unlike Wikipedia which assumes an encyclopedic mission aimed at a global audience. Hence, the Foresight Wiki is grounded in pragmatic thought, according to which the meaning of a concept is determined by the practical consequences of its application. Meaning of a Foresight method or concept is thus a matter of the conceivable experiential consequences of a concept's applying. The consequence is that, in most cases, editing a FORwiki article means adding new sections, providing new understandings for a concept in new contexts. The FORwiki articles are meant to foster all the voices within the Foresight Community of Practice by gearing them in dialogical fashion.
The initial structure of the FORwiki content is composed out of four types of FORwiki pages, clustered into four categories, and accessible through four respective FORwiki portals. The four portals are: Practices, Clarifications, Narratives, and Repository. The portals Practices and Clarifications have an initial content, developed prior to the opening of the FORwiki platform to the public. The initial content of the portal Practices is composed out of 18 FORwiki articles, one for each foresight method listed by the FOR-LEARN guide. Each one of these articles is typically composed out of the following sections: (1) a wiki-style introduction; and (2) a summary of the article describing the method in the FOR-LEARN guide. Also, there is initial content in the portal Clarifications, as a consequence of Mutual Learning Workshops on fundamental concepts of foresight, each one generating an article for the Clarifications portal. So, this is the content created during the development stages of the FORwiki platform: the initial content of the portal Practices, and the initial content of the portal Clarifications.
Developing FORwiki content
How is the FORwiki content further developed once the platform is opened to the public? In one of the following two ways. First, a member of the FORwiki community may introduce the narrative of a foresight exercise by writing an article in the portal Narratives. Afterwards, s/he will write new sections in articles that already exist in the Practices portal, describing the respective foresight methods that were used during his/her exercise. It is vital that both actions are completed. Second, a member of the FORwiki community writes the review of a book or a study, and uploads it to the Repository portal. If there is already an article in the Clarifications portal on the book’s or article’s topic, the member is expected to add a new section. It becomes now apparent why a member of the FORwiki community must fulfill the following requirements:
- To have developed the methodology of a foresight exercise, and/or to have implemented a foresight exercise;
- To have published a book or a study on a topic related to foresight.
See also FORwiki:The FORwiki Community
Figure 1 describes the initial structure of the FORwiki platform. The arrows represent internal links the authors are supposed to include in their articles. Mandatory links are marked with continuous lines; optional links are marked with broken lines.
Developing the platform
FORwiki content and structure are not meant to be frozen, but rather to evolve in time, reflecting the FORwiki Community. The mechanism through which the platform is changing are the FORwiki projects, developing both the content’s initial model, and the software that controls the platform. A FORwiki project brings together a group of members that collaborate on a collection of pages devoted to the management of a specific topic or family of topics. All active projects are listed in the Active Projects page, allowing members of the FORwiki Community to join a FORwiki project, initiate one, or oppose the development of a FORwiki project. In his final case, FORwiki policies for Resolution of Conflicts are to be implemented.
Read more about FORwiki Active Projects here.