I'm in the middle of exactly that at the moment.

I end up having to put a lot of effort pumping data into the wiki and building examples to show what a semantic wiki can do for people who don't 'get' it if I simply talked to them about it. 

In that respect, demos do work to convince non techies as long as they can highlight how quick / easy / cheap they are compared to alternatives. 

Another related approach that worked on our end was to drop references to technology and focus on answers / solutions to problems. 

I prepared a whole presentation around what questions people can ask of the system and how they can resolve them. That presentation received the most interest I've ever had compared to previous, more traditional presentations. There was only one slide that said something like 'oh by the way, this is possible because the system is built on a semantic media wiki'. 

Non techies I had to work with have various reactions when you talk upfront about wikis and semantic web. Most of these reactions are not good :) A kindler, gentler approach based on solutions to real problems seems to work a lot better.

So... 'why semantic mediawiki' and testimonials would go a long way as long as they focus on solutions that cannot easily be provided by alternatives. 

Things like : flexibility, queryable vs searchable, various import/export formats, forms, ... 

Also, in my search for inspiration, I came across this site : 

http://www.wikipatterns.com/display/wikipatterns/Wikipatterns

It sums up most of the behaviors, good and bad, that I have seen trying to sell wikis (and semantic wikis) to various people. The site itself is sponsored by a competitor of MediaWIki but the behaviors discussed there still apply and the site makes for a good read.

- Laurent 

On May 1, 2009, at 5:35 PM, Yaron Koren wrote:

Well, I'm glad there's some support for the concept. Joel and Dan - I think creating more demos is a separate issue (and, by the way, everyone has my full permission to publicize anything on Referata), but I should note that, from my personal perspective, marketing the software to techies isn't nearly as important as marketing it to the non-techies. That's for two main reasons: first, because the people who would ultimately make the decision to use this software in their own organizations generally aren't technical, and second because there are already, I think, a lot of great demos of SMW's capabilities on the various wikis; while there's almost nothing intended for managers who just want to make sure that the technology is effective, and that it's being used in the real world.

-Yaron


On Fri, May 1, 2009 at 10:09 AM, Brian Osborne <bosborne11@verizon.net> wrote:
Yaron,

This is entirely reasonable. A significant part of the support for SMW comes from people who contribute to the open source code and also make money as contractors developing for companies using SMW. If these individuals cannot support themselves doing this contract work then I suspect they'll start to focus their attention elsewhere, away from SMW, and SMW will suffer. Or, not grow as it has been growing. 

The fact is that companies are increasingly interested in SMW and there's no reason we should pretend otherwise. Open source SMW benefits from this attention, in my opinion.

Brian O.

On Apr 30, 2009, at 12:16 PM, Yaron Koren wrote:

Hi,

How do people feel about adding more marketing-type documents to semantic-mediawiki.org, explaining its benefits to companies and organizations, and showing examples of its usage? I'm thinking specifically of two things, although more could be added:

- a "Why Semantic MediaWiki" page, listing all the benefits of using SMW, in a less technical and more CMS-focused way than the site currently provides
- a "testimonials" page, featuring statements contributed by users

I looked around, and there are other similar open-source projects that do provide more marketing-type documentation. Here's the testimonials page for MindTouch Deki, another wiki application:

http://www.mindtouch.com/Testimonials

And here's a customer listing from Alfresco, an open-source CMS:

http://www.alfresco.com/customers/

Both of these products are run by for-profit companies, which is probably why they have a much bigger focus on marketing. But I think increasing usage is something we can all get behind, even those who aren't trying to making money from the software. Any thoughts?

-Yaron
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