Web Technologies and Reasoning Communities

Web Technologies and Reasoning Communities

Charlynn Miller (University of Ballarat, Australia) and Philip Smith (University of Ballarat, Australia)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60960-091-4.ch021
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The popularity of the Internet, coupled with a reduction in traditional community participation has resulted in maturation in the way that people use Web 2.0 technologies to support communities. Reasoning communities come together to make decisions or form courses of action on particular topics. This chapter investigates how traditional Web (1.0), Web 2.0 and Web 3.0 technologies can be used to support the four phases of the process that reasoning communities typically undergo to achieve their results.
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Communities have traditionally congregated to serve the shared interests of their members. A “reasoning community” (Yearwood & Stranieri, 2009) is one in which the members collude to make a decision or form a course of action on a particular topic. Before the availability of high speed communications most communities were, by necessity, location-centric. They were defined more by their face to face meetings than by their intent.

The massive uptake of the Internet by the mainstream community, coupled with a reduction in traditional community participation (Putnam, 1995) has resulted in maturation in the way that people use the Internet. The inception of Web 2.0 has begun to change the location-centric nature of relationships and thus communities (Mason & Rennie, 2007). The Web 2.0 community is location-less, not concerned with cultural, age and language barriers, more tolerant and are able to form and disperse at a speed never before seen in community efforts. The ability for a community to develop from individuals who were previously unknown to each other and the opportunity for this community to have an impact on the area or topic that they are addressing is now possible through the nature of Web 2.0 and its accompanying applications.

The use of technology to assist reasoning communities is not a new concept. Many applications, including decision support systems, data mining, knowledge warehouses and artificial intelligence systems are employed to assist reasoning communities in meeting their objective of a group decision. In this chapter, the way in which traditional web, Web 2.0 and Web 3.0 applications can support reasoning communities is discussed together with the impact of these applications on the formation of reasoning communities. This discussion will involve:

  • Traditional web communities.

  • Reasoning community formation through Web 2.0 applications and the impact of these applications.

  • Particular Web 2.0 applications that support the individual reasoning stage.

  • The efficacy of some Web 2.0 applications in supporting the process of group coalescence.

  • The support of group decision-making through the use of Web 2.0 technologies.

The chapter will then look to the future, exploring Web 2.0 applications from the point of view of individual needs. Finally, the potential impact of the Semantic Web (Web 3.0) on the various phases of reasoning communities will be discussed.



Communities are groups that are organised around common values. A reasoning community is one in which the participant's reason individually before coalescing as a group and using this reasoning collectively to arrive at a decision or course of action (Yearwood & Stranieri, 2009). Yearwood and Stranieri identify four stages or phases in the process a reasoning community undergoes to achieve its results:

  • Engagement - in which individuals come together to form a group.

  • Individual Reasoning - in which the members reason individually about the issue at hand.

  • Group coalescence - in which the members come together to reason about the issue at hand.

  • Decision making - in which a final decision or course of action is determined.

With the changes in the Internet to support more participation and communication between and with users, new possibilities have opened up for the use of the Internet, and more specifically, Web 2.0 applications, for reasoning communities. The ways in which Web 2.0 applications, and later Web 3.0, might be used to support each of the phases of a reasoning community will be a major focus of this chapter.

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