Adaptive notifications to support knowledge sharing in close-knit virtual communities

Original Paper

Abstract

Social web-groups where people with common interests and goals communicate, share resources, and construct knowledge, are becoming a major part of today’s organisational practice. Research has shown that appropriate support for effective knowledge sharing tailored to the needs of the community is paramount. This brings a new challenge to user modelling and adaptation, which requires new techniques for gaining sufficient understanding of a virtual community (VC) and identifying areas where the community may need support. The research presented here addresses this challenge presenting a novel computational approach for community-tailored support underpinned by organisational psychology and aimed at facilitating the functioning of the community as a whole (i.e. as an entity). A framework describing how key community processes—transactive memory (TM), shared mental models (SMMs), and cognitive centrality (CCen)—can be utilised to derive knowledge sharing patterns from community log data is described. The framework includes two parts: (i) extraction of a community model that represents the community based on the key processes identified and (ii) identification of knowledge sharing behaviour patterns that are used to generate adaptive notifications. Although the notifications target individual members, they aim to influence individuals’ behaviour in a way that can benefit the functioning of the community as a whole. A validation study has been performed to examine the effect of community-adapted notifications on individual members and on the community as a whole using a close-knit community of researchers sharing references. The study shows that notification messages can improve members’ awareness and perception of how they relate to other members in the community. Interesting observations have been made about the linking between the physical and the VC, and how this may influence members’ awareness and knowledge sharing behaviour. Broader implications for using log data to derive community models based on key community processes and generating community-adapted notifications are discussed.

Keywords

Community modelling Adaptive support for knowledge sharing Virtual communities 

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© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Hotel & Tourism ManagementCyprus University of TechnologyLimassolCyprus
  2. 2.School of ComputingUniversity of LeedsLeedsUK

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