This wiki deviates from most others in that each participant in a collaboration is expected to own their own working space. We will compare this metaphorical ownership with other things we own as a way of illuminating the unusual opportunities and common confusions herein.
My site is like my house. I enjoy having visitors but when they leave it is still my house.
My site like my home is an extension of myself. I value visitors because I gain from their presence. My gain is not their loss.
We distinguish owning and operating a server from owning and operating a site. We login to a site as if we were unlocking the front door. Ownership of that key is what confers power over what is within.
Visitors find our house by its internet address called a domain name. Domain names are leased much like server space but through a separate agreement often from a separate provider. We can keep this address even as we move just as we now keep telephone numbers.
Our metaphor breaks down a little when we invite the world to our wiki home to take whatever they please. But there are strings attached. We insist that the takers credit our house as the source.
We call this unusual view of property the creative commons. An idea becomes more powerful as it is shared. This is not true for the secret formula of Coca-Cola which is not of the commons. But it is true for tips for a good night's sleep. We both awake rested.
We make our home be just the way we want it but then sometimes we need a change. We can be many people and learn a lot by trying different points of view within different communities.
Wiki provides a better home for our intellectual life when our colleagues are in the neighborhood. Some of us will construct settlements and invite others to join us in this cosmopolitan atmosphere. We become landlords of sorts and will seek a different kind of help.
A house wraps our skin like another layer of clothes. A home defines us and while making room for others. The metaphor works for wiki because the federated version strikes this same balance.