Digital Environments are computer simulations of some aspect of reality by interacting with which everybody can understand that aspect of reality. Digital Environments do not simply provide information but they reproduce the mechanisms, processes, and cause-effect relations underlying\ reality so that users can understand reality by interacting with the Digital Environment. They enter into the Digital Environment, they do one thing, and they see the consequences of what they have done. They have one goal and they find out how to reach that goal. Something happens which they don’t like and they discover how to prevent it from happening. They play roles, either alone or with other users, and they learn how to play those roles. Digital Environments have a user interface which is mainly non-verbal, strongly interactive, and as motivating as a computer game. They can be very simplified or more realistic, they may exist in different versions for different types of users, and users can enrich the Digital Environment by adding new information. And since they are prevalently non-verbal, Digital Environments are accessible to everyone in the world, whatever his or her language.


Here is a list of potential users of Digital Environments.


1. Voters


Societies have become very complex and traditional tools for knowing and understanding how the society functions such as newspapers, television, and books use a communication tool - language - which is beyond the capacity to understand of most voters, is not motivating, and assigns a passive role to the reader or hearer. The result is that voters vote without really knowing and understanding most of the issues on which the people that they elect will take decisions. They vote based on their ideologies, their personal and short-term interests, or the capacity of candidates to convince them. Today, the Internet makes it easier to exchange information, to propose and discuss ideas with other people, and to organize political action - and this is called e-democracy. But e-democracy does not really “empower” citizens because they still do not understand how the society functions and do not really know how to make it function better. This is why e-democracy, in its current version, cannot replace traditional representative democracy.

To really change political life, e-democracy needs Digital Environments. By making available to voters Digital Environments which reproduce the economic system, the financial system, the fiscal system, the judiciary system, the political and administrative systems, how the state uses the money of taxpayers, how human behaviour affects the environment, what is globalization and what are its consequences, voters can interact with these Digital Environments and, through these interactions, they can know and understand what are the issues and what are the different options, they can ask political candidates to better explain what they will do if they are elected, and they can even propose what politicians should do. And they can know what politicians have done or not done after they have been elected. In this way, voters can vote as “real” citizens and they will be more motivated to vote. Digital Environments transforms politics into policy.


2. Citizens

Digital Environments can help citizens to know the consequences of their behaviour for themselves and for others. This is true for consumers, investors, tax-payers, and other categories of citizens.


3. Students

Learning in schools and universities is traditionally based on language. Students listen to lessons, read books, discuss with teachers and other students, respond to questions and tests. Even today’s online courses are mostly based on language. Texts appear on the computer screen, lessons by real teachers are registered and presented on the computer or some other device, students answer questions and receive suggestions on what they should read. The problem is that language has many limitations as a tool for learning. For many students language is difficult to understand, not motivating, necessarily abstract, and often remembered as sounds without a clear meaning - and these limitations are even more serious for “digital natives”.

Digital Environments are the solution for this problem. Digital Environments are not based on language and they make it possible to learn by doing things rather than by reading or listening to words. Much educational content can be simulated in a computer and presented to students as Digital Environments. School students can learn science, mathematics, geography, history, and social science by interacting with Digital Environments, and the same for university students who specialize in the different disciplines.


Digital Environments require that students have access to computers, tablets, and other digital devices but this access is not sufficient because, today, Internet offers little that can be really useful for learning what students must learn and, in particular, it does not offer Digital Environments.



4. Politicians and public administrators


Digital Environments can be tools for politicians and public administrators who take decisions that affect all citizens. Politicians need to know the problems of the society and the consequences of their decisions for the society. Digital Environments can help them to know them better. Public administrators can use Digital Environments to improve the functioning of the administrative structures they govern. And Digital Environments can also let citizens know how public organizations function and suggest how to make them function better.



5. Private enterprises, international institutions, and non-for-profit organizations


Digital Environments can simulate private enterprises, international institutions, and non-for-profit organizations - and the environment in which they operate - and they can be used by those who direct or work in them to make them function more effectively.



6. Tourists and museum visitors


Digital Environments can increase the cultural and economic value of cultural heritage in general and, more specifically, of archaeological sites, monuments, and objects conserved in museums. Today, archaeological sites, monuments, and objects can only be “seen” but they cannot be “understood”. They can be seen by going to where they were originally or by visiting museums and they can also be seen by using traditional communication tools such as photographs, films, and television. Computers and Internet have extended the power of these communication tools and today it is possible to “visit” archaeological sites and museums by using virtual reality. But little is done to make tourists and museum visitors understand them except for panels with written texts, verbal explanations of touristic guides, and verbal comments in films and television transmissions.


Digital Environments can be tools for making the public understand archaeological sites, monuments, and objects conserved in museums because they simulate their historical, social, economic, political, cultural, and religious context as a complex system of causes, consequences, and historical events. This complex system is not narrated in words but tourists and museum visitors understand what they see because they interact with and play roles in these Digital Environments - and they can also compare the past with the present and, in this way, they can better understand both the past and the present.


Digital Environments increase the cultural value of archaeological remains and museum objects for tourists and museum visitors (including classes of students). And they can also increase their economic value if they are only accessible in archaeological sites and museums and, therefore, they require a physical visit. But, in restricted versions, they may also be accessible on Internet and, in this manner, they can make the physical visit of archaeological sites and museums more attractive.