Future Tools for Sharing Knowledge: Virtual Communities in the Web3D

Future Tools for Sharing Knowledge: Virtual Communities in the Web3D

David Oyarzun (Vicomtech - Visual Communication Interaction Technologies Centre, Spain), Amalia Ortiz (Enne, Spain) and María del Puy Carretero (Vicomtech - Visual Communication Interaction Technologies Centre, Spain)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-802-4.ch016


This chapter also suggests what ideal tools for knowledge sharing and learning on Future Internet could be like, the advantages that their use could provide and the factors the authors believe should be improved to turn this ideal tool into a reality.
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The appearance of Web 2.0 tools has changed the way people communicate. Until their appearance, the traditional Web (called now Web 1.0 in order to distinguish it from the current web) was an almost unidirectional way of transmitting information. People created their web pages and filled them with contents, but there was no feedback from other users to complement these contents.

Nowadays, the proliferation of blogs, forums, instant messaging tools and wikis (in other words, Web 2.0 technologies) provides a new communication scenario in which communities with similar interests can share their comments and knowledge in real time.

One of the factors that has contributed these tools’ great success has probably been their ease of use. Very little technical knowledge or specific expertise is needed to use them. They are almost universal tools. And they have been very widely accepted. Nowadays, for example, Facebook has more than 400 million active users (statistics, 2010).

With regard to the use of Web 2.0 tools for sharing knowledge in the working environment, LinkedIn (LinkedIn Home Page, 2010), considered to be the biggest professional network, has more than 200,000 interest groups. Users share comments and information with other users with the same interests.

This level of acceptance means that knowledge sharing is not only easy but also fast. Fast, on the one hand, in that Web 2.0 tools provide real time communication. On the other hand, they are so widely accepted that it is easy to find groups sharing common interests and with huge numbers of active members willing to share their expertise. The combination of these two factors means that knowledge flow is quicker than when using other tools.

Reports about Future Internet are starting to talk about the up-and-coming web (es.Internet, 2009; Portal, 2010). According to these reports, one of Future Internet’s objectives is to evolve the paradigm of users as content consumers and producers, introduced by Web 2.0, towards a new stage in which web services will be completely interactive and collaborative for all users. Another factor that is being introduced is the Web3D: one of the features of the new generation of web tools will be the inclusion of simulations of real life by means of 3D contents and immersive environments.

Only time will allow us to see the validity and success of these new trends. However, some advantages and disadvantages can be stated now, and that is this chapter’s objective. The aim is to encourage an open discussion about the disadvantages of current Web 2.0 based tools and the possibilities that a new, more collaborative and immersive web can provide for overcoming them.

The chapter starts from the hypothesis that technological solutions that can be useful for communities of practice are more useful include collaborative working possibilities, immersion and learning validity.

Taking this into account, the next section presents a state-of-the-art analysis of current Web 2.0 tools for collaborative work and learning. Virtual world characteristics and serious games that can improve Web 2.0 tools’ knowledge sharing and learning are then explained. Section 5 lists the features that can be useful for CoPs and Section 6 suggests factors that should be improved in next generation tools. Finally, conclusions are presented.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Wikis: Collaborative web sites whose content can be edited by anyone who access to them.

LMS: Applications used for managing, distributing and tracking eLearning activities.

Serious Games: Games whose goal is not leisure.

3D Virtual Worlds: Synchronous and continual network of inhabitants (users or autonomous agents), represented by avatars embedded in 3D applications and supported by computer networks

SLATES: Acronym that defines the differences between Web 2.0 and Web 1.0

Web 2.0: New digital platforms for generating, sharing and refining information on the Internet.

Web 3D: An evolution of current multimedia web that will provide new ways of showing information and interacting with it via 3D contents and simulations.

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