Hacking or faking a wiki history for good purposes

I want to utterly hack the wiki format because I don’t think it’s been fully explored.

I’d like wiki software into which I can manually insert fake edits. I’d like to write the history in arbitrary order and set the dates myself. (Usually the dates are automatic.) I love the history!

Why? The history is a really useful way of representing the progression of a document.

Here’s one application. Lots of documents change and it might be useful to show their development in this fashion. In the UK, bills are discussed in parliament, they are edited then they sometimes become acts which are the basis of law. Very few normal people actually follow the process. A wiki-style history might help their understanding.

There’s a similar process at the Welsh Assembly and we certainly need help understanding what happens there.

There are also famous documents like the USA constitution which might be fun or historically interesting to represent in a wiki fashion. Imagine being able to see prohibition as a literal 18th amendment to the wiki and it being repealed by the 21st amendment.

As well as the democracy stuff, there might be journalistic applications of something like this. Representing important documents in different time-based ways.

This idea strikes me as somewhat “obvious”. (It was inspired by a comment in a video interview with Matt Mullenweg about open source.) Has it been done before?

I might have a go, there are many open source wiki software systems. For instance MediaWiki or DokuWiki could be adapted to do this. There are also document comparison programs, maybe I just need to do it as a set of documents which can be compared.

Maybe this intersects with what Google Wave can do, I haven’t tried it yet.

I use Google Docs every day now and it’s obvious that that has borrowed heavily from wikis. I’d struggle to go back to emailing attachments back and forth.

Google have two products called wiki – SearchWiki and Sidewiki – and neither of them are really wikis! But Google Docs are proper wikis. If you haven’t tried Google Docs, try it.

I’m thinking of other documents that change over time, which could be wikified. Like chessboards and images of your dog’s face.

My own face is a wiki edited by time. My body is a wiki, edited by beer and curry.