Friday, May 25, 2007

More conference news

My paper about knowledge transfer in virtual worlds was not accepted for the ECSCW 2007 conference. On the positive side, I received extensive review comments which gives me some more insight into the position of the CSCW (Computer Supported Cooperative Work) community on this subject.

Positive elements in the comments where the acknowledgement that this is a timely topic and that the paper did a good job of explaining what drives the popularity of virtual worlds. The paper was also credited with giving insight into the way virtual worlds might encourage new ways of information transfer and trust building that are lacking in other forms of computer mediated communication. The motivational attributes that are identified in the paper (see my recent presentation in Finland for more on that) offer a good basis for further research.

The biggest problem with the paper is of course that it is a purely intellectual exercise and not a report on new research. In that sense it was considered premature by the reviewers, who would have liked to see some ethnographic evidence of the practices described in the paper. No argument there, but that will be something I will be working on in the coming months.

On the whole, I am encouraged by the comments. I guess a rejection for this particular conference was inevitable because of the lack of empirical evidence I supply.

On a further note, my contribution has been accepted to the workshop on Communities of Practice in Highly Computerized Work Settings, which is organized as part of the 3rd International Conference on Communities and Technologies at Michigan State University. That promises to be an interesting exchange of ideas.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

DiGRA conference

I received an invitation today to present at the poster session of this year's DiGRA conference to be held in Tokyo this September, based on a paper I submitted in February (about virtual worlds as a tool for knowledge transfer). I'll receive additional reviewer feedback shortly, so I don't know exactly what they liked and didn't like about my submission. More about that later.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Virtual teams and virtual worlds

In 2001 we did some research about work in virtual teams, i.e. teams that are not co-located. We interviewed members of virtual teams in twelve multinational organizations and came up with a "pyramid of virtual team success" which included (from bottom to top): technology, setting objectives, competences, leadership, communication and establishing a team culture. You can find more details in the presentation below.

It's 2007 now, but I think much of what we found at the time is still relevant today. The available technology has evolved (somewhat), but most of the challenges that virtual teams face have not disappeared. However, with Wikinomics and Synthetic Worlds penetrating deeper and deeper into our culture, the time has come to take a fresh look at the subject. Some encouraging signs are an interesting post this week by Lisa Galarneau on the Terra Nova blog about the subject of virtual teams and some thoughts on using virtual worlds as a collaboration tool on the Virtual Cultures blog. Maybe the gap is slowly being bridged.

For myself, the next step for the coming months will be a mini-study of a team operating in a virtual world. I want to get a sense of how they are able to overcome the boundaries of space, time and culture. How do the elements of our good old "pyramid of virtual team success" translate to a virtual world environment? I'll keep you posted on the results.