The following is a timeline of the events relevant to the history of this wiki as a project. It currently includes mostly technical information, and could certainly benefit from the addition of the development of the actual content. For information on our server setup/other geeky things, see System Info.
Before this wiki ever existed, at least several Davisites had thought about creating something akin to it. For instance, in 2002, Jaime Raba wanted to create a wiki devoted to Davis. In early 2004, then housemates Philip Neustrom, Paul Ivanov, and Mike Ivanov sat down over some tasty burritos at the Guad to discuss several ideas for implementing a freely accessible, freely editable, and extremely user-friendly website where useful and entertaining information about the city and the university could be collected. The central concept was the ability for anyone to create an illustrated "entry" describing a place, event, person, or idea related to Davis, and make it possible for others to find and reference the entry in order to organize and build on the content. In addition, an intuitive interface built around a geographic map of the city was discussed. Above all, emphasis was placed on usability and dynamic content.
Excerpts from some notes taken at that first meeting on June 14th, 2004:
In the Beginning
Deciding to jump right in rather than build the web site's backend from the ground up, on June 24, 2004, Philip Neustrom installed and configured a copy of the popular open-source wiki package MoinMoin on his laptop, an iBook G4. The choice of the "MoinMoin" package was largely arbitrary, and inspired partly by Tobin Fricke's BerkeleyWiki project. He named it, naturally enough, "Davis Wiki," and chose the bike circle, a symbol especially recognizable in Davis, as a tentative logo (see Wiki Logo). He created a few pages, including UC Davis Principles Of Community, and opened up the wiki for contributions from friends (see User Statistics for dates users joined).
Although the MoinMoin wiki, generic as it was, did not exactly fit the original concept for the website, and although accessing it on Philip's laptop was far from convenient, it is fair to say that the potential was immediately felt by some of the early users. On June 29 Philip acquired temporary hosting courtesy of JoshuaGo, and together with Mike began the process of transforming the MoinMoin package into the vision of Davis Wiki.
On July 2, 2004, much to the surprise of Philip, Mike registered the domain www.daviswiki.org and set it up to redirect to our temporary hosting. Work was progressing on customizing the wiki and making it easier to use. The top priority was designing a new theme that was more user-friendly and visually appealing than the default themes available in MoinMoin at the time. At this point Mike did some initial proof-of-concept coding of the interactive map.
On July 5, 2004, the wiki was put on permanent, reliable hosting. Or so we thought at the time. It would turn out to be neither reliable, nor permanent. Still, it was much better than what we had before, so there was much merriment. During the summer Mike and Philip were involved in the mathematics VIGRE summer research program, but Davis Wiki was taking up more and more of their time.
By late July, the new theme was nearly complete. It looked almost nothing like the original theme and featured CSS tabs for intuitive navigation, a simplified login screen, and a unified search interface. A MoinMoin developer even complimented us on the look of our wiki, and apparently liked it so much that the new MoinMoin Wiki now looks remarkably similar to our own. In addition, Philip and Mike added many new features, such as the comment box, an XML-based Events Board complete with an RSS feed.
The development of the wiki slowed down somewhat over the next two months, partly to allow for some rest, and partly because school started in late September. Nevertheless, the content grew steadily and more users joined every week. The one major development in August was the move away from CamelCase, which allowed for more natural page names.
The start of the 2004-05 school year was always the target for "going public" with the website. This meant finalizing all the interface tweaks, testing the features, and removing the password protection in order to allow anyone to view and join the wiki. As a purely historical note, our password used to be "bikecircle69".
The wiki was not quite ready at the start of the school year, but it was close. In the final push to make the wiki publicly available, Philip rehauled the search interface to implement powerful indexing software called Xapian, and Mike rushed to complete the interactive map Java applet. After tying up some loose ends, the stage was set for the public release of DavisWiki.org. We unlocked the site on October 27, created some nice flyers and posted them around town.
Over the first three weeks of being open to the public, the number of Davis Wiki users quadrupled to over 100, and the number of pages doubled to over 600 pages. The amount of content on existing pages had also grown considerably.
|Dec. 10th, '04|
|Feb. 23rd, '05|
|Mar. 20th, '05|
|Jul. 18th, '05|
|Sep. 6th, '05|
|Nov. 30th, '05|
|Apr. 22th, '06|
|Oct. 31st, '06|
|Feb 10th, '07|
As the Davis Wiki is regarded as one of the most successful wiki projects, many other groups decided that they wanted to use our software, known as LocalWiki at that point. Tobin Fricke, who had originally started the Berkeley Wiki (not the current version), decided to try again at his new location in Rochester, New York. This project also turned out to be fairly successful. With more programmers contributing code, LocalWiki evolved into to Sycamore, which, among other things, replaced the flat file backend with a faster SQL database.
But what became clear is that many other groups wanted the ability to host wikis such as Davis Wiki for their towns, but without having to handle installation and system administration. The Davis Wiki machine, hosted with Cernio Technology Cooperative, also hosted Santa Cruz Wiki, Rochester Wiki, Chico Wiki, and others. Philip Neustrom embarked on a new project — create tools so that any person could easily start a wiki using Davis Wiki's software. This project became Wiki Spot, a place where a whole network of nonprofit wikis can grow. On April 3, 2007, Wiki Spot officially launched. Davis Wiki serves as the flagship wiki of Wiki Spot (primarily because it is the biggest wiki).
Wiki Spot was also a formalized, legal entity associated with the project. It was incorporated and had its first meeting on 2009-01-243. 501(c)3 non-profit status was obtained on 2009-12-9.
And it came from on high to Philip Neustrom, and yea he should have a new vision, and that vision was Local Wiki. So it came to pass that he applied to the Knight Foundation, and they awarded Wiki Spot $350,000 in US dollars to build this new vision. The grant was awarded on June 16, 2010.
The vision is this: build a new wiki software from the ground up designed for local community use from the ground up, using modern frameworks like Django and a GUI editor. This will provide a better user experience and a more welcoming community. And we're just getting started... we'll need your help to help us make the best wiki yet.
June 18-23, 2010 The Davis Wiki was featured in articles at Nieman Journalism Lab at Harvard, The Sacramento Bee, The Modesto Bee, PoynterOnline, Gawker, boingboing, and reddit. Additionally, Local Wiki was featured on the New York Times Media Decoder blog, The Bay Citizen, and other news sites.
May 18th, 2010 Philip Neustrom and Bill Buchanan chat about the Davis Wiki on the "Davisville" KDRT show.
November 6, 2009 "Welcome to Davis, Calif.: Six lessons from the world’s best local wiki" - post on Harvard University's Nieman Journalism Lab website
July 15, 2009 Wired's Geek Dad blog wrote an article titled Hey Kid Support Your Local Wiki. It was about taking his kid to a wiki event as a fun father/son activity and a good way to give back to the community. He mentioned "DavisWiki", Davis, and Wiki Spot several times. According to the research cited, Davis is one of the biggest Wikis in the world with the most total users. Thanks everybody for the good work and solid contributions to DavisWiki!
While not quite "media" per se, the City–UCD Student Liaison Commission Renter Issues Subcommittee Report, Tuesday, October 6, 2009 (pdf link) notes that Davis Wiki, of those asked, is the most popular resource for finding roommates. 528/735 (71.8%) respondents chose Davis Wiki, page 4.
Spring 2008 College Currents a publication of the UC Davis College of Letters and Science mentions ArlenAbraham, PhilipNeustrom and CharlesMcLaughlin. "Wiki World", p. 34 (PDF). For the record, Arlen did not create the Davis or Sacramento Wikis and was not interviewed for this article.
March 2008 Prix Ars Electronica application submitted
December 14th, 2007 Online city guide outgrows its grassroots.
September 27, 2007 Davis Wiki offers Resources to Davis Residents, Students - Article in the Aggie's orientation issue about the wiki.
July 12, 2007 Won't you be my neighbour? - Article in Toronto's The Annex Guardian community newspaper cites DavisWiki as the largest city wiki and mentions all the help Davis folks have been providing to Torontopedia.
July 7, 2007 Wiki to the City - Article in The National Post Newspaper notes Davis Wiki is the largest English language city wiki and is also the model for Torontopedia. Print article is reposted onto the newspaper's PostedToronto city blog.
May 20, 2007 Davis Wiki Awarded for Innovation and Community Service in The People's Vanguard of Davis - has an interview with Philip Neustrom about the wiki past, present, and future.
May 17, 2007 "Human Relations Commission presents 2007 Thong Hy Huynh awards" - Article in the Aggie about the Thong H. Huynh Awards talks about Davis Wiki winning the Excellence in Community Involvement award.
May 14, 2007 "Trujillo honored for lifetime achievement" - Article in the Davis Enterprise about the Thong H. Huynh Awards talks about Davis Wiki winning the Excellence in Community Involvement award.
Oct. 31, 2006 "Halloween: UC Davis legends exposed as myth or fact" - This creepy photo of the Baxter House taken by Philip Neustrom is used in The California Aggie article.
June 2, 2006 "The truth, and nothing but my opinion" - The California Aggie opinion article by then-Managing Editor, mentions "our alternating competition and cooperation with online resource, Davis Wiki."
June 1, 2006 "KDVS to host Operation: Restore Maximum Freedom concert" - Minor cite in The California Aggie.
May 22, 2006 "Davis Wiki updates software, server for speedier service" — Article in the California Aggie
March 29, 2006 "Bits & Bytes, Chilling on the Creative Commons" - Column in the California Aggie mentions Davis Wiki as an example of a Creative-Commons licensed work.
January 10, 2006 "Oak tree's demise leaves huge hole in Davis' heart" — Mention in the Sacramento Bee
September 24, 2005 Two mentions in the Davis Enterprise's town orientation issue. One for an piece with the headliner "If you want more in-depth knowledge of the city, UC Davis or the surrounding areas, you might want to check out the following resources...", another for an article on the Arboretum, which mentioned the many Arboretum Bridges to be found (12 of them!)
June 28, 2005 "A tale of two cities: Dixon and Davis" — Daily Republic story cites Davis Wiki as a source.
May 25, 2005 Wiki page The Worst Intersection in Davis cited in research paper Roundabouts in Davis (a Comprehensive Policy Analysis) by Ph.D student David Zetland.
March 28, 2006 33 Wikis: Davis Wiki - A look at Davis Wiki in a series on interesting wikis.
1. Spring Cleaning cleared out a lot of pages
2. More Spring Cleaning knocked out another 200+ pages
3. Wiki Spot grew out of a non-incorporated "Davis Wiki Board" which we formed so we could open a bank account