What is Bliki?
Conventional blogs are one dimensional – with the number of posts listed over time, being the only dimension. Consider a situation where you would like to edit a post you made over a month back. Using the existing blogging platforms, it is not possible to retain the previous version. Such a feature is intrinsic to a wiki. A Wiki is a special form of Web page which allows its contents to be edited by anybody. Because of this feature, a Wiki keeps track of all versions of a document, in case the latest edition is erroneous and a previous version needs to be restored immediately. That feature would be of much use in a blog since it would allow one to view the changes that have been made to a blog post over time, in a way reflecting the changing perceptions of the blogger. Also in case of organizational blogs, rather than having many authors creating separate posts, a wiki will allow a single collaborative post.
Enter the Bliki, also called Wikiblog, it is a two dimensional blog, the second dimension being the editions/versions of each post. Much like blogging platforms, wiki platforms are also distinct from the wiki host. While Wikis are not within the scope of this chapter, we shall briefly review a free bliki service so as to offer a glimpse of the possibilities. There are many free bliki hosts available on the net; here we will take atwiki.com as an example to explain the Bliki concept.
You need to sign up to be able to start a bliki at atwiki.com. After signup you are taken to your bliki. The first thing you notice is the presence of three tabs on the right. The history tab is what brings in the second dimension to a bliki. The three tabs are omnipresent. The “Add a New page” is used to make a new post, the “Edit this page” Tab is used to edit the page and the history tab lists all the changes that have been made to that page. A text editor facilitates the editing and creating process, and you have the option to use an HTML editor or a Wiki based editor. True to the collaborative origins of a wiki, any visitor to the site can edit the contents or add a new page, which is not really desirable in a blog. Changes to the platform can be made using the Settings links on the top right corner. Under page style you can change the page color scheme. Under the Page Manage link you can specify the users who can modify the contents of the bliki. If you prefer to be the only one doing the editing (as is the case with blog) you should change the Edit-Lock entry to Admin only. To ensure that all pages that you create retain these settings, visit the Policy link. Here you can change the “New page Default Edit-lock-type” to Admin only. Also enable the “Deny anonymous Create New Page” to avoid visitors from creating pages on your bliki. Under the CSS link you can insert custom CSS code, if you know what you are doing. Under the Menu Page and Default Page you can edit the contents of these two pages, which are also editable by using the Edit Tab on the right hand top corner of every page.
As a technology demonstrator, Atwiki impresses—the potential of a bliki is quite evident after using it. The language on the site is (refreshingly) childish, and reading through the FAQ is hilarious. Nevertheless, users with knowledge of CSS can create a layout that they would be comfortable with. While it may not be suitable for professional use, from a personal blogger’s view—the large Google ad notwithstanding—Atwiki offers a bit more than an ordinary blog. Other providers worth trying are wikidot.com and netcipia.net, with the latter offering a much better implementation of the bliki concept than atwiki.com.