Virtual Institutes: Between Immersion and Communication

Sachs-Hombach, Dr Klaus and Schirra, Dr. Jörg R.J. and Schneider, Dr. Jochen (2003) Virtual Institutes: Between Immersion and Communication. [Book Chapter]

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In the two expressions "virtual reality" and "virtual community", the term "virtual" has different meanings. A virtual reality is a depiction or, more generally speaking, a sensuous representation of reality that allows - mainly by means of interactivity - to experience various features of reality without actually being in contact with the reality depicted. Therefore, any interactive depiction that is able to imitate reality to such an extent that a high degree of sensory-motor immersion becomes possible is called a virtual reality (Heim 1998, 6f). Since reality is always much more complex than its depiction and full of unpredictable surprises, hardly ever a user has doubts about the difference between the depiction and the thing depicted. Nevertheless, there are good reasons for preferring the imitation to the reality: at least, the imitation is usually not as dangerous as reality sometimes turns out to be. Accordingly, quite different platforms for virtual institutes may be used emphasizing either the immersion aspect or the communication aspect. The decision for a platform depends on the goals pursued with the institute: text-based chat systems allow virtual communities to flourish, single-user VRML scenes convey a highly immersive 3D impression to its users. This is particularly true for virtual institutes realized as a 3D environment, as well as for corresponding virtual communities since 3D environments are adequate for certain tasks only. As an overall framework for the evaluation it is helpful to distinguish three major application areas: research, presentation, and communicative work. The Virtual Institute for Image Science (VIB), which we would like to describe in the following (3) as a case study, is almost exclusively designed for the third task: communicative working. It intends to provide a working space persons can share for joint projects despite being physically separated. Before describing the VIB in more detail we would like to give an overview of virtual institutes between the poles of realistic immersion and of communication in a community (2). The discussion of the case study leads to some more general considerations about the balance virtual institutes must find along that bi-polar dimension (4). In the concluding remarks we focus on the technical tools for virtual communities in 3D presently available.

Item Type:Book Chapter
Keywords:virtual institutes, virtual communities, virtual reality
Subjects:Computer Science > Human Computer Interaction
ID Code:4921
Deposited By: Schirra, Dr. Joerg R.J.
Deposited On:10 Jun 2006
Last Modified:11 Mar 2011 08:56

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