background image
the exception of these shortcuts, the topography of Rome is strictly adhered to; all
entrances and exits must be physically possible and are based on scholarly maps of the
ancient city. Use of images was emphasised in order to give students a sense of immedia-
cy and connection to the ancient world.The VRoma Image Archive was created by digi-
tising photographs (many contributed by VRoma staff and Classics teachers) and has now
grown to more than 2000 images.The Image Archive is one of the most widely used of
all VRoma resources, and has inspired much interest from makers of television documen-
taries. Image sources do not have to be ancient; models, reconstructions and modern
paintings of classical subjects are also used, as well as images scanned from books within
the public domain and a number of photographs taken specifically for the project.
VRoma's Web server has directories assigned to individual photographers where they
can upload the images and HTML files which link to them and contain metadata: a brief
description of the subject; dating of the subject (if known); location and date of photo;
and useful keywords.The images are stored as jpegs (or occasionally gifs).The Image
Archive uses the Glimpse search engine
302
, which queries the text in the HTML files,
although this process is not standardised beyond the minimum metadata specified.
303
The building of VRoma began in the initial workshops by core staff who chose par-
ticular sites based on their research interests and expertise. Building was largely collabora-
tive, with workshop participants making suggestions and constructive criticism. Building
continued after the workshops' conclusion, and several more advanced MOO-building
workshops were organised to allow staff to work together once again in an intensive col-
laborative setting. Building privileges are granted by the VRoma administrator, who gives
characters a gateway room which they `own', usually in the non-historic section of
VRoma.
The project has a core staff, primarily recruited through the initial workshops, of
whom some have built various sites in the MOO. Continued collaboration has been
achieved through a listserv, email, and synchronous communication within the MOO
itself.The VRoma Core Faculty listserv comprises sixty-one members.The nature of the
collaboration primarily involves the creation of online resources both in the MOO and
through Web sites, although staff at different institutions have also collaborated on cours-
es, students from different schools have worked together on projects, and both have par-
ticipated in discussions within the MOO.The VRoma MOO currently has 679 regis-
tered users. Most regular users are from the US, and there are many international users
who visit more sporadically. Due to the varying visiting patterns and usages of VRoma
resources, the technology can accommodate many more users. Users are stored as objects
in the VRoma database. If a user has building privileges he can designate one of the
rooms he owns as `home' and the character enters the MOO from this location.
Characters who cannot `own' MOO rooms are stored in a MOO object called Limbo
and enter VRoma through the Prima Porta VRomana. Characters can be customised,
users choose a name, a password, from ten different genders (which determines which
pronouns are used), and can change their icon and description. As an educational MOO,
Collaborative Mechanisms
and Technologies
163
302 http://webglimpse.org
303 Since VRoma has been continually developing and evolving, the directors decided that ongoing assessment by
individuals actively participating in the project and using the MOO for teaching would be used to evaluate
the system.The assessment of various aspects of the project, and results of that assessment, as well as more
information about VRoma collaboration and project outcomes, can be found in the Final Report to the
NEH, at http://www.vroma.org/~bmcmanus/finalreport.html
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