Lots of good blog posts these days on the differences of wikis and weblogs. Of course, since they are all blog posts a clear consensus is never reached. A good way of explaining the differences between the two tools, as wikis drive current state consensus.
Dave is right to define weblogs (there are other definitions too) as a tool that allow the unedited voice of single person to speak. He contrasts this with content management systems, where workflow drowns out individual voices. And wikis, where your contributions can be edited by others.
At Socialtext, our product combines a wiki and a weblog (some call that a wikiblog), among other things. I dont want to add fodder to the criticism of more talking than doing social software. But I will impart from our doings that we have seen clear differences of use, and how we explain them:
A weblog enables individual voice. This is important as no other tool has shown the ability to gain the participation of people in a larger, dare I say, system. Perhaps because it give so much back. The simple format of weblogs and ease of use allows wide participation. A post reflects a person's understanding on a given issue at a moment in time. Individual voices exist in a social context that urges continued participation. Post-to-post communication and feedback encourage continued use and sharing that otherwise occurs only in private. A weblog is a great source for what's new and the narrative thread that got us there -- a simply powerful tool for communication and publishing.
Wikis let the group voice emerge. Many people participate within a given wiki, each with an equal voice in a shared space that anyone can edit. Its a different act of sharing to contribute your words to a page that others can build upon. Our instinct is to at first believe this would create conflict and distrust, but it actually builds trust. Each wiki page reflects the current consensual understanding of a given concept. A page isn't a complete or perfect understanding, information and conditions change too quickly for it to be possible Instead, a little wabi-sabi and trusting others allows something powerful to emerge and stay current -- a simply powerful tool for collaboration.
We aren't the only one to think of the differences between weblogs and wikis as individual and group voices. Elwin Jenkins describes it as weblogs turn individuals into webpages while wikis turn communities into webpages.
There are lots of similarities between the two tools. Both are web native, are easy to use, are link-intensive and encourage sharing.
Both are being widely adopted, wikis less visibly because of private group use and at different paces in different areas. A customer once explained to me how he thought wikis were more popular than weblogs in Asia because group voice is valued greater than individual voice. Regardless of popularity, different cultures and organizations will have different values that is reflected in their tool selection.
Its not a choice between one or another. The temporal structure of weblogs and logical structure of wikis are a complement for lasting effects. One of the more powerful patterns in an organization is how an opportunity is published in blog, possibilities are swarmed upon in blog conversation and then driven to consensus and outcome in a wikified document. After the outcome, the knowledge and its social context remains.
Both tools together create powerful effects for publishing, communication and collaboration.
2:00:39 PM -- Others on this topic: Collaboration | micro-content | Reputation-Trust | Social networks | Social Software | Socialtext | Wiki