ViMM Working Group 3.1 undertook work on a typology of virtual entities (e.g. virtual exhibition, virtual visitor, hologram, virtual reconstructions, 3D object, etc.) excluding “virtual museum” – which is defined by ViMM WG 1.1. This typology was intended as a set of definitions outlining the differences between these entities. WG 3.1 produced a first set of agreed-upon concepts and definitions for the relevant virtual entities identified. All findings underwent a final evaluation process in the group.

The working group decided to clearly distinguish between virtual entities (in the sense of “pretending to be …”, “not totally …”) and digital entities. Virtual entities might be (and nowadays often are) digital in nature but they are not necessarily digital. Digital entities might be virtual in relation to corresponding entities in the analogue realm, but in cases where such correspondence is not given, they are not virtual entities. Often the terms are used interchangeably, but the differences have to be observed as they denote different qualities of the entities.

Terms that, in the understanding of the Working Group experts are not virtual entities or not related to virtual cultural heritage:
• Virtual business (not related to CH)
• Virtual excavation (not related to CH)
• Virtual enterprise (not related to CH)
• Virtual heritage (existing definitions rejected)
• Virtual image (not related to CH)
• Virtual Learning Environment (Might be called a digital learning environment, or a digital learning space, learning management systems, e-learning-systems, distance learning …)
• Virtual machine (not related to CH)
• Virtual memory (not related to CH)
• Virtual museum (defined by TA1)
• Virtual replica (term irrelevant, use: digital replica)
• Virtual team (outdated term)
• Remote visitor (not a virtual term)
• Virtual world (technical term only)
• Aggregator (not a virtual entity)
• Digital catalogue (not a virtual entity)
• Digital imaging (not a virtual entity)
• Digital library (not a virtual entity)
• Digitized book (not a virtual entity)
• Digitized manuscript (not a virtual entity)
• Digital copy (term rejected, digital copies are real)
• Digital file (files are not virtual)
• Digital package (not virtual)
• Digital sport (not relevant at the moment)
• Digital storytelling (not a virtual term)

Terms for which the Working Group agreed on a preliminary definition:

Term Definition
Virtual archive A virtual archive brings together documents of any type from different archives. Giving access at record-level.
Virtual performance A performance conducted by different actors at different places brought together live by technical infrastructure.
Virtual artifact Is an object that is created in the human mind or in a digital environment.
Virtual community A social network of individuals who interact remotely, potentially crossing geographical boundaries in order to pursue mutual interests or goals or a community that does not know that it exists (e.g. the community of stamp collectors).
Virtual archaeology Virtual Archaeology is a research field that deals with the reconstruction of artifacts, buildings and landscapes of the past (still existing or not but known to us thanks to archaeological, historical or artistic sources) through three-dimensional models, hypertext and multimedia solutions. Virtual Archaeology collects, catalogs and makes available all the information gained from the field work (excavations, artifacts, documents, files) turning them into digital knowledge.
Virtual research environment A VRE comprises a set of tools and network resources and technologies interoperating with each other to facilitate or enhance the processes of research practitioners within and across institutional boundaries.
Virtual library Virtual library is a collection of links to the selected by type or region or to the unlimited number of libraries’ OPACs.
Virtual model An avatar on a catwalk.
Virtual organization An organization involving detached and disseminated entities and requiring information technology to support their work and communication.
Virtual reality Virtual reality (VR) is a computer technology that uses Virtual reality headsets, sometimes in combination with physical spaces or multi-projected environments, to generate realistic images, sounds and other sensations that simulate a user’s physical presence in a virtual or imaginary environment. A person using virtual reality equipment can “look around” the artificial world, and with high quality VR move about in it and interact with virtual features or items. VR headsets are head-mounted goggles with a screen in front of the eyes. Programs may include audio and sounds through speakers or headphones. (
Virtual reconstruction A virtual reconstruction is a 2D or 3D or 4D modelling of one possible interpretation of former state of object or site.
Virtual tour A virtual tour is a simulation of an existing location, usually composed of a sequence of videos or still images. It may also use other multimedia elements such as sound effects, music, narration, and text. It is distinguished from the use of live television to affect tele-tourism. –
Virtual visitor Robot or avatar.
Virtual exhibition (Virtual) exhibition that merges objects which are not possible to be brought together in reality or the location does not exist.
Virtualization Virtualization refers to the act of creating a virtual (rather than actual) version of something, potentially using computing but not only.
Virtual repository A repository that does not holds objects but that enables remote access (similar to a meta OPAC).

Comments on the list and definitions are welcome !