About the author(s): Marco Prestipino is a Research Assistant with the Information Management Group at the University of Zurich, Switzerland. His research focuses on cooperative knowledge management, virtual communities and human computer Interaction issues in computer supported cooperation.
Abstract: Traditionally, online communities have been seen and analyzed mostly as a social phenomenon. Instead, we look at communities as a new kind of knowledge management system possessing several advantages over information products (books etc) or traditional information systems (databases). Our research in the area of online tourist communities indicates that they can deliver better information than commercial printed tourist guides. Virtual communities provide ressources for keeping a vast amount of knowledge up-to date for free and provide a social interface to information seekers. Typically, virtual communities on the web use discussion spaces. This technology has not changed much since its invention decades ago. Disadvantages of discussion spaces, like heterogenity and maintenance of information, are overcome by shared material, as realized by Wiki Wikis. But pure Wikis, while suitable for general, encyclopedic knowledge, lack personalization and communication support. Thus we argue for a hybrid approach,combining different tools and adding functionality to allow easy transition and flow of information between discussion spaces, personal spaces and knowledge base in the wiki. Experiences from several prototypes will be presented and discussed.
For Papers regarding the subject see http://www.ifi.unizh.ch/im/imrg/index.php?id=prestipino0