Thursday, December 13, 2007


This week I decided, since my workload was a bit less demanding, that it would be a good time to get a little more organized. I got the idea from reading some messages from some other women scientists that maybe a wiki would be a good thing to try using.

I realized through the discussions that it would make a good centralized repository for all my bright ideas. Back in the days before arm trouble, I used to have a three-ring binder in which I placed all the papers I had scrawled my brilliant plans on. Usually I would take paper from the recycle bin that had printing only on one side, punch holes in it, and write on the blank side. I organized everything chronologically, making sure to put the date on every page. I still have several notebooks full of my notes from graduate school.

When I was a postdoc, I used Word documents rather than handwritten pages. This saved my hand from the torture that was writing, but otherwise it was a system a lot like the one I had in graduate school. Instead of a three-ring binder with pages in chronological order, I had a directory in which I stored my musings. I still have those documents, which I transferred to my new laptop when I changed jobs.

Both of these methods were useful at the time, but a wiki has distinct advantages over them both. First, it is more searchable than the binders or Word documents. It has a built-in search feature, so I don't have to remember when I did the work or what I entitled the document in order to find it. Second, it's inter-linkable, so I can link pages together and organize them in multiple ways. There are different types of wiki pages that you can create: one of them is an index page, so all you have to do is have a link to the index page in every page that you want to show up on that page. So for example, I have a Software Tips page, that has links to all the pages on software. So I have a page on PETSc, and a page on TotalView, for example, and each of those is automagically indexed by this Software Tips page.

I'm using the Desktop Wiki version of MoinMoin, and so far I'm pretty happy with it. I set it up so that when I log in, MoinMoin automatically starts and launches a browser window with my wiki in it. I had fun learning about creating Mac applications, and getting everything all set up on my machine.


Laura said...

How do you pronounce MoinMoin? A la francaise, mwwah mwwah? En espanol, mo-eeen mo-eeen? Or English, moyn moyn? (I think that's the least easy to say...)

Rebecca said...

Laura, according to Wikipedia, moin is a Frisian/Low German greeting meaning "hello." Unfortunately, that page does not provide a pronunciation for it. I've been pronouncing it in my head as a hybrid a la francaise/English, that is, mwwahn mwwahn. I justify this because I think moin comes from the same Germanic root as the German word morgen and if you pronounced morgen in a way that eliminated the r and the g, I think it would sound that way.

This is based on absolutely nothing, mind you :)