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Christopher Lueg <[log in to unmask]>
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Christopher Lueg <[log in to unmask]>
Sat, 5 May 2001 02:36:38 +1000
TEXT/PLAIN (131 lines)
  [please apologize if you receive multiple copies]

        Call for Papers and Participation

                    ECSCW 2001
(European Conference on Computer-Supported Cooperative Work)
        Bonn, Germany, September 16, 2001

                   Workshop on
 Actions and Identities in Virtual Communities of Practice

 Christopher Lueg, University of Technology Sydney
 Elisabeth Davenport, Napier University
 Toni Robertson, University of Technology Sydney
 Volkmar Pipek, University of Bonn

Workshop theme and background

Communities of practice are a hot topic in CSCW and knowledge management
as they have been identified as social groups that support effective
information and knowledge sharing as well as learning. As the number of
physically distributed groups have increased so has the interest in the
concept of virtual communities of practice.

This workshop will explore an aspect of virtual communities of practice
that we consider important for understanding these social groups. The
question is where the actions are in virtual communities of practice. Our
focus is the relations between the locations of activity in virtual
communities of practice. In particular, we want to investigate if and how
it matters that activities in physical space create and maintain
interaction in virtual communities of practice.

In order to investigate virtual communities of practice, we need to draw
from several research areas. We know from sociology that humans are social
beings that tend to form communities and we know from research in virtual
communities that humans are able to form such communities in the virtual.
We also know that ``communities of practice'' may emerge whenever people
work together. However, social participation - as a constituent of
communities of practice - is not just engaging in certain activities, such
as working in a team, but actively participating in the practices of
social communities and constructing identities in relation to these

Such participation shapes not just what participants do but also
self-perception and understanding of their own activities, i.e., their
identities within specific communities of practice. Apparently,
communication and socialisation can happen in the virtual to some extent.
The action, however, still happens in the real world when interacting with
the physical and social environment.

2 Goals and objectives

The overall goal of the workshop is to develop our understanding of the
relations between virtual socialising and activities in the physical
world, especially with regard to learning. Potential topics to investigate
are as follows:

- Is the concept of communities of practice well-suited to be applied to
  virtual communities? Research indicates that communities of practice are
  only one specific social group among several that support information
  and knowledge sharing. Other groups, such as communities of interest,
  communities of purpose, and communities of passion or distributed
  communities of practice, might be more suitable to describe virtual
  settings. As these groups are not mutually exclusive, it might be
  difficult to allocate a specific concept to a particular social setting,
  such as newsgroups.
- Research in embodied cognitive science stresses the importance of
  physical presence and bodily interaction with the environment. However,
  bodily experiences and tacit knowledge are hard to communicate and we
  are interested in what ways these communication ``problems'' matter in
  the context of virtual communities of practice.
- ``Identity'' is an important aspect of communities of practice and in
  the context of virtual communities of practice, the role of identity has
  received less attention than in the context of real world communities of
  practice. The interesting thing with virtual communities of practice is
  that identities would not only form in the interaction
  with the virtual community but also in the interaction with the ``real''
  social environment.

With the Internet, virtual communities use a medium which is not
transparent to its participants. Communicating and acting in virtual
communities is to some extent bound to the tools used by the community.
Representations of persons, actions, artifacts, the communication flow,
argumentation lines, etc. may play an important role in building
identities and practices as well as in learning. We are also interested in
the interdependencies between the tools (the medium) and the different
dimensions of learning (as belonging, as becoming, as experience, and as
doing) connected with the concept of communities of practice. And, as a
consequence, what we can learn for tool design.

3 Intended participants

Participants should be familiar with either ``communities of practice'' or
``virtual communities'' but we do not expect participants to be experts in
these particular areas. The ``action'' issue, in particular, demands an
interdisciplinary perspective so that the workshop could benefit from a
broad range of backgrounds from cognitive science to social sciences.

Participants are requested to submit /either/ a position paper (1-2 pages)
stating background and interest in the workshop /or/ a 1-page position
paper and a full paper that is suitable for publication. The position
papers will be structured into a number of moderated discussion threads
which will contribute to a summary of issues and positions at the end of
the panel. Also, the position papers will be made available on the
workshop home page. We intend to submit the full papers as a collection for
publication. Lawrence Erlbaum expressed interest to publish such a

Submissions (only PDF or postscript please) should be sent to the contact
address listed above.

Time Schedule
 01 July 2001                Papers are due
 20 July 2001                Notification
 Early August 2001           Early registration deadline
 16 September 2001           The workshop takes place at ECSCW 2001

See you in Bonn!

|                                                                      |
| Dr. Christopher Lueg                  [log in to unmask] (preferred) |
| Department of Information Systems     Fax +61 2 9514 1807 / Fon 1838 |
| University of Technology Sydney |