Cat Wiki

I adopted a cat in Tampa, Florida on November 2, 2004. Estimated to be five years old, she was left at the Humane Society as a stray after one of the hurricanes.

I had never had a cat. I was lonely and soul-weary and friends urged me to get a cat. So I read books and articles and Web sites about cats. I dreamed of a young, golden cat.

I wasn’t allowed to take home the cat looking up at me from one of the bottom cages on October 30. The Humane Society doesn’t permit adoption of black cats before Halloween.

A classic childless pet owner, I am fascinated by my cat.

Seth Godin says there are three kinds of blogs: cat blogs, boss blogs, and viral blogs.

I think there should be a cat wiki. My cat’s wiki.Annescat

As a collaboratively generated, online compilation of information, my cat’s wiki–as Wiki Guru Thomas Stone recommended in the Element K webinar I attended on 5/13/08–would be seeded with already-known or already-created documents. I could quickly write a billion wiki entries with product reviews of cat trees, treat-filled cat puzzles, and electrically heated cat beds.

The collaborative part would commence with entries from the one billion veterinarians I took my cat to for not drinking water (one rarely sees them doing it), for throwing up (How did I miss the sections in the books on hairballs?), and for scratching and scratching (Fleas? How could my indoor cat have fleas?). Those entries would conclude: "Overall Impression:  Cat, healthy. Owner, nutty."

More collaboration would come from one billion wiki entries from my cat’s pet-sitters. I know some might urge me to feel deep embarrassment about hiring pet-sitters for my cat, but I signed a contract with the Humane Society stating that I would take full responsibility for the care of this small, dependent being.

I got a late-life master’s degree in counseling so I am familiar with the psychology of pet ownership and how owners project their own unmet needs onto their pets. Fine. Whatever. While I was finishing that late-life master’s, my cat spent 16 hours alone. I came home to find her wild-eyed.

Professional pet-sitting service visits began every weekday. I have kept the notepads–our own private wiki–on which the pet-sitter and I exchanged and documented observations and developed theories about my cat.  No more wild eyes.

That type of content would be fine for a blog except that pet-sitters move on to other jobs and that’s what Stone calls a "brain drain" from an organization. When a company’s employees leave for whatever reason, they take their knowledge with them. But if all the knowledge is stored in a company wiki–easily revised and updated, both searchable and browsable–the people can leave, but the learning achieved on the company’s time remains.

My cat’s pet-sitters might have benefited from being able to consult a wiki about my cat. Or maybe I would just wanted them to add to it so I could read about my kitty. Hmm. I can imagine a parent wanting the same for his or her child–a complete compendium of thoughts and observations about the child starting from the birthing room. My Kid’s Wiki. Probably a business in that.  Yep, just checked. is available.

My Tampa hot house flower cat and I moved to Blacksburg, Virginia in July 2006 (hence the heated cat bed). We’ve both got new men in our lives. I’ve got a husband, and she has John Havran.

It’s hard to find a pet owner in the area who doesn’t know, and revere, John Havran.  He cares for dogs, cats, horses, goats, sheep, chickens, tortoises, even hedgehogs.  Google what you have to do to care for hedgehogs and you would contract with John on a daily basis, too.

Since Google is now a part of speech, I assume "wiki" is or will become a verb as well. So, I’ll say that John Havran doesn’t wiki, but I wish he did.  I would search and browse The John Havran Wiki first before I called him in a panic about the most recent thing my cat does or does not do.

Well, I can see how cat blogs get started.

Anyway, what does a cat wiki have to do with the local high-tech economy, entrepreneurship, and high-tech start-up businesses accelerating and incubating at VT KnowledgeWorks?

Jim Flowers, Director of VT KnowledgeWorks, is thinking about wikis. So I’m thinking about wikis.

My preliminary conclusion on wikis?  Synergy.

Whether for a cat or for a high-tech start-up, a wiki could provide a chance for synergy, for the whole to be greater than the sum of any of its creatively collaborated upon parts.

I would still like to write a billion entries for my cat’s wiki.  And I would love to read what all the people in her life had to say about her as they extended my entries or added theirs.

But the synergy of a company wiki might free up everyone to pursue their own interests and their own dreams.

Probably a business in that.

Yep, just checked. is available.

[Added 5/19/08:  Here’s a nice example of a wiki, link provided by my father, Robert H. Giles, Jr.]


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  2. Hello! All would like to congratulate on coming Christmas!

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