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Nov 03 2011

Wiki inventor Ward Cunningham in Conversation with Tom at HealthCamp Oregon

Published by at 6:02 pm under Conversations with Tom,Heath IT,VistA

I had the pleasure of taping a conversation with wiki inventor Ward Cunningham at Health Camp Oregon in Portland Oregon Oct 22, 2011.  Ward and I had been having Skype video chats, comparing our notes about how his invention of the wiki and my initial architecture for VistA had so many similarities.  Ward is an amazing thinker with a wonderful, generous attitude about technology.  This is one of my favorite conversations to date, both for what he said, as well the responses he drew out from me.

Ward’s initial wiki was just 300 lines of code that he wrote in a couple of days.  My initial “onion diagram” of the VistA architecture held a “virtual machine” of just 19 commands, 22 functions, and 1 data type.”  Wiki grew as a result of the communities it supported; VistA grew a similar community around it.  Ward frequently references language and names of web pages and their effect on the wiki community; I spoke of creating a “speech community” and a language for health with metadata.

We both came to the conclusion that the strength of our designs was based on having only scant resources at our disposal – too much money would have spoiled the integrity of the designs.

I spoke of the need to move forward with a positive vision of health, and using IT as a tool for creating the language and the community to make this a reality in health care, but I didn’t know exactly what button to press to make it happen.

Ward, in his amazing style, said, “Well, we’ve done it twice, let’s do it again!”

Thanks to Nate DiNiro of Open Affairs TV for helping to pull together this video.

Stay tuned.

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