WOO: Web Object Oriented

Constructing Your Own Collaborative Adaptive Information Systems

Tutorial proposal for the Fourth International World Wide Web Conference ``The WEB Revolution'', December 11-14, 1995, Boston

"WOO" stands for both "WEB Object Oriented" and "W3 + MOO". MOOs are a variant of text-based virtual realities also known as MUDS (Multi-User Dimensions or Dungeons). WOOs or Webbed MOOs combine the flexibility of the MOOs with the WWW's ability to deliver structured text, multi-media and interactive forms over the Internet. A webbed MOO thus acts as a flexible HTTPD server.

A MOO is a network-accessible, multi-user, programmable, interactive system. Participants usually connect to a MOO with specialized telnet-based "client" program. Having connected to a character, players then give one-line commands that are parsed and interpreted by the MOO server as appropriate. Such commands may cause changes in the virtual reality, such as the location of a character, or may simply report on the current state of that reality, such as the appearance of some object. MOOs allow for individual users to extend the environment both programmatically, and by "building" or creating new objects. In an educational context, this can allow the student to become an active participant in the learning experience. In a professional context, users can build virtual offices, meeting spaces and other artifacts.

The purpose of this tutorial is to introduce Webbed MOO Technology to a wider audience at both the conceptual and technical level. We will address in particular the following topics and show how various CSCW and CSCL tools can be implemented with a webbed MOO.

  1. Collaborative Work with Webbed MOOs
  2. Adaptive Information Systems
  3. Webbed MOOs in Education and Training
  4. Interactive Collaborative Learning Environments
  5. Corporate and Commercial Issues
This tutorial concerns people interested in computer supported collaborative work (CSCW) and learning (CSCL) and organisational information systems (OIS) in general, as well as researchers and practitioners familiar with MOOs. Documentation for participants will be made available over the Web.


Gavin Bell, co-chair, (Nottingham University),
Samuel Latt Epstein (SenseMedia),
Daniel K. Schneider, co-chair, (University of Geneva),
Marcus Speh (Andersen Consulting),
Jenifer Tennison (Nottingham University).
Contact Person:
D. Schneider, Email: schneide@divsun.unige.ch.
half day



  1. Introduction
    Speaker: Daniel K. Schneider.

    The WOO Revolution

  2. Collaborative Teleworking for Distributed and Multinational Organizations
    Speakers: Jenifer Tennison and Samuel Latt Epstein.

    The need for information to be shared within an organization has grown due to the expansion of companies over continents. Workers no longer exist in the same office, but need to communicate with other workers who are spatially some distance from them. In addition, larger projects are being undertaken that need time to complete, and with a high staff turnover rate, this means that those who start a project are not necessarily those who complete it. What is needed is a flexible and dynamic means to satisfy the collaboration requirements of these organizations.

    Several systems have been developed to meet these needs. Organizational Information systems such as TOSCA (Prinz, 1993) allow information about those working within the organization to be available for others in a easily-navigable hypertext format. Several Design Rationale systems have been developed which structure the design process by explicating the argumentation structures behind discussions on how artifacts should be designed. Again, these structures are often represented in a hypertext form for ease of navigation.

    This talk will outline the contribution of webbed MOOs to the internal needs of organizations, describing how they can archive information, facilitate communication and present this information in a hypertextual format.

  3. New Century Marketing - Focusing Your Message For The Global Marketplace
    Speakers: Samuel Latt Epstein and Jenifer Tennison.

    It is hip to present your organization over the web, offering information on the services and goods for sale in a colorful, imaginative way. However, where these presentations fall down is in their lack of adaptivity and interactivity. Different customers require different services from organizations, and have varied knowledge about them. In order to catch custom, they must be presented with the product they need in the shortest length of time. Webbed MOOs are flexible enough to deal with adapting to customers from a variety of backgrounds, and can be given the intelligence needed to present appropriate information. In addition, webbed MOOs can glean information from the customer, aiding in the conducting of market surveys and increasing the feeling of proximity between the customer and organization.

  4. Adaptive flexible Hypertext and CSCW Systems
    Speaker: Gavin Bell.

    Users have difficulties retrieving information from electronic information systems. However they must know roughly what they are looking for, otherwise how do they know when they have finished. The act of navigation defines a search for information, from this it should be possible to create a model of the desired information. The MOO server can be used to implement flexible information systems, including hypertext. This can be used to allow the user personalised views of an information space. It can also act as a CSCW (computer supported collaborative work) tool, for information sharing

    This talk will focus first on the creation of adaptive models of the user's current information interests. This model is formed by capturing the user's path of navigation. The system can then adaptively present other nodes within the information system which related to the navigated path of the user. Finally it concludes with an overview of some of the areas into which the system may develop. These include knowledge representation, visualisation techniques and distributed servers.

  5. Virtual Worlds for Education and Research
    Speaker: Daniel K. Schneider.

    MUDs have been in educational use for a number of years now. This talk will present first a short overview on MUDs used for research and education and discuss various "uses" of text-based VR technologies for learning, teaching and support of research work. The potential of webbed MOOs will be discussed in particular by taking examples from existing WOOs but also by addressing their increasingly strong CSCW and CSCL potential.

  6. WOOs in corporate training
    Speaker: Marcus Speh.

    WOOs are responding to a growing need of training departments in multinational organizations for better reuse of human and curricular resources. WOOs stand for a wider class of virtual reality learning environments. In this talk, we will try to argue that 'Webbed MOOs' can make a significant difference in a growing market of vendor products. Our argument will be based not on technology, but on the appropriate application/training context and the content provided for teaching on Webbed MOOs. In particular, we propose the following benefits to commercial organizations with the need for corporate training:

    This talk is not primarily targetting the technologically literate. Examples will be provided through Andersen Consulting's WOO-based world-wide virtual campus, as well as a currently growing group of users with developing commercial applications of WOOs.

    How to get started

  7. A primer on WOO Technology
    Speaker: Jenifer Tennison.

    This section will focus on the technology behind WOO. Firstly, it will detail the philosophy behind the development of WOO technology, which is that advances using the World Wide Web should be made by increasing the intelligence of the servers rather than producing a number of extended clients. We will describe how information can be stored in an object oriented manner for access via the web and how this access can be made flexible, adaptable and secure. Finally, the three generations of WOO will be outlined: MOOs accessed through cgi-bin scripts from a standard httpd server; MOOs accessed directly and MOOs accessed through a perl script, and give examples of each.

  8. Example applications
    Speaker: Samuel Latt Epstein.

    This section is example based and we will address topics like:

    Three good example applications that will be discussed are:
    1. the sports scores served on sprawl.
    2. programming using the web with version control.
    3. virtual conferences using the web as electronic whiteboard.
    We will point out how easy these applications are to construct within a webbed MOO.