PikiWiki, which opened to the public yesterday, is no ordinary wiki. Instead of collaborating with others to edit text-dominated pages, people can use PikiWiki to easily share media with one another in a scrapbook-like environment.
The coolest thing about PikiWiki is how well the company has pulled off its drag and drop interface. After you sign up for a free account and create a blank page, you can drag any file from your desktop environment straight into the browser (on Windows and soon on Mac OSX). The file will be loaded and formatted appropriately by PikiWiki automatically. For example, photos will be displayed in a reduced size and placed where you dropped them. Generic files will be represented by links. All loaded files will be uploaded to PikiWiki’s servers once the page is saved.
In addition to loading files onto a PikiWiki page, you can embellish the page with various color themes and text blurbs. You can also record audio and video right into the page. The company plans to increase PikiWiki’s feature set, so expect to see a greater range of themes and widgets available in the future.
Once you have created a page, you can share it with a group of other PikiWiki users (such as friends or family members). You can opt to allow other group members to edit your pages, or you can simply share the pages as read-only. Pages can also be organized into “scrapbooks” within particular groups. This structure lends itself well to creating a group for each family that wants to create separate scrapbooks for its reunions.
Currently, PikiWiki is entirely free and without any storage constraints. However, the company has plans to monetize the service by charging for storage beyond a certain limit. They also anticipate providing a service in which users can order their scrapbooks as physical objects. Other potential sources of revenue include providing branded accessories for decorating one’s pages.
PikiWiki is a Santa Clara-based company with five employees. They have been working on this product for about a year and a half without any outside funding. It’s great to see them designing a service that appeals to techies and non-techies alike.
Click on the screenshot to visit a sample PikiWiki page (with editing disabled).