background image
This system of indirect referencing is indispensable in eStage because of the parallel use of
CH in different languages. Underpinning automatic text analysis and association using
the vector voting method bypassed a number of compatibility problems usually encoun-
tered in heterogeneous databases.
Englmeier recommends the use of platform-independent Java applets for features that
are usually found in traditional client-server applications, and are therefore different from
`traditional' text and graphic presentations. For a higher level of interaction it may even
be justifiable to forsake a complete readiness and availability on the client side and to
resort to a Web application that is installed and runs independently.This option should be
investigated if the user audience is willing and in the position to install and run an appli-
cation.
Significant interactivity is the key to an advanced level of communication, permitting
the two-way communication essential for highly interactive information environments.
There remains a major difficulty with the Web's suitability for delivering highly interactive
units, particularly evident in the shortcomings of HTML. In terms of user group size, the
level at which the eStage community becomes truly useful is about fifty contributors and
around 400 contributions. Below this threshold an information space will have problems
attracting a significant user group.The estimated optimal size is 500 contributors and
7500 contributions.This size would ensure that eStage covers almost all ramifications of
modern puppet theatre, including a substantial representation of cultural heritage content.
These conclusions provide pointers to other groups wishing to establish similar interactive
communities of information and actors.The project also concluded that there were other
areas that could be developed once the project had achieved a critical mass of contributions
and participants. The education possibilities could be further investigated; structuring the
eStage information space along pedagogical issues can lead to an instrument that demon-
strates certain behaviours through puppet plays.There might even be possibilities for
developing an electronic marketplace of puppetry allowing the community to commer-
cialise their artefacts.
VRoma
294
VRoma is an online community for the teaching and learning of Latin and ancient
Roman culture.The VRoma community exists in a virtual `place', a multi-user net-
worked environment (MOO/Web server) built upon the spatial and cultural metaphor of
ancient Rome. Here teachers and students can meet in real time, interact, collaborate,
hold classes, and access databases, texts, images and
teaching materials.The project provides access to
online classical resources, ranging from archives of
digital images relating to classical antiquity, to Web
pages on Latin language and Roman literature, his-
tory, and culture.
The purpose of the project is to facilitate the
teaching and learning of Classics and to promote
more broadly interest in ancient Roman civiliza-
Collaborative Mechanisms
and Technologies
160
VRoma
Stone figures `looking' at computer monitor
294 This case study is based on email communications between Barbara McManus of VRoma and Daisy Abbott
of DigiCULT, taking place during August 2003.
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