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museum near San Francisco.Visitors to the museum could use the device in four ways:
shared listening, independent use, following, and checking-in. Shared listening, also
known as `eavesdropping', allowed partners to hear audio clips being played for other vis-
itors, thereby sharing what their partner was studying, examining, or experiencing at any
given moment.
Problems the Technology Addresses
These technologies can change how we communicate and who we communicate
with. Knowledge and intellectual effort is widely distributed and collaborative approaches
make it feasible to bring them together virtually. It is difficult to gauge empirically the
knowledge that exists within a community since this changes so frequently and so rapidly.
Conversely, it may be that the knowledge held by a community's core may become more
stable (and certainly more mature) as a result of the peripheral communications orbiting
it.Thus the basic influences that VCs hold are in intensifying the act of communication
and changing its nature from face-to-face to remote, and the creation of new knowledge
compendia which because of their dynamic nature are not as a rule being preserved.
260
The technology can be used to address the following sorts of challenges:
- The wide distribution of individuals interested and knowledgeable about the
heritage generally and specific subjects (e.g. natural history studies of butterflies);
- The development of communities of activity about topics in an environment where
it is increasingly difficult for people to meet physically because of time constraints;
- The sharing of access to virtual representations of objects, recordings, or data that can
form the basis of discussions (e.g. using P2P technologies) and engaging discussions
surrounding them;
- The integration of professional and popular discussions by communities of interest;
- The need to break down social barriers to the heritage. Virtual communities can be
more inclusive than real communities, although in this the digital divide created by
the costs of access can be a barrier;
- To generate excitement through immersive and interactive communication; and
- To engage individuals in communities.
H o w C o l l a b o ra t i ve Te c h n o l o g i e s Wo r k
Types of Community
Virtual communities may be broadly classified into three basic types: communities of
practice, informational communities, and social communities. Communities of practice,
261
as the
name suggests, are formed among individuals to enable them to share knowledge and
Collaborative Mechanisms
and Technologies
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260 Of course, it is possible to record the development of dynamic content; the question is who will do this, and
how do we decide what is and what is not worth keeping? Issues of appraisal of these kinds of material
remain a substantial research area.
261 Sometimes they are referred to as `practical communities'.
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