Social Architectures

Social, economic and institutional context, processes and mechanisms are critical to information Infrastructure (II) implementation. Many II practitioners understand that the design of systems and change programmes must factor in and leverage institutional and social realities. However, in practice, very little attention is generally paid to these aspects of II development other than the design of program governance mechanisms and the articulation of engagement plans for stakeholders.

Governance alone is insufficient, as this is concerned only with direction and collective decision making (‘steering’). Effort also needs to be focused on facilitating, incentivising, encouraging, and stimulating the community participation (‘rowing’) necessary to achieve common goals.

As IIs are not implemented in terra nullius, from a systems landscape perspective, governance and stakeholder participation mechanisms must account for, and leverage, existing organisational and information community initiatives that have delivered successful collaborative outcomes. To achieve collective impact, a broad range of existing and planned independent activities must be coordinated so that they become mutually reinforcing.

To successfully deliver a multi-sector II, a comprehensive ‘social architecture’ approach is proposed. Social architecture refers to the conscious design of an environment that encourages a desired range of behaviours to achieve common goals. It addresses the social, institutional and economic aspects of II design and implementation. Social architecture provides a distinct, socially-oriented view of the II to guide, supplement and support the technical and information architectures that are being articulated.

In this context, three inter-related streams of activity are proposed:

  1. Social science examining the relationships between people and groups, patterns of behaviours, attitudes, and understanding reflected in (and transmitted by) culture in relation to aspects of the information value chain (i.e. its production, distribution and consumption).
  2. Economics of the production, distribution, and consumption of information. Addresses the costs and benefits of information infrastructure development (including ROI), funding models and business models for infrastructure development and operation.
  3. Institutional analysis considering the formal and informal rules and organisational arrangements governing human interactions, that provide a context for and enablers of intra and inter organisational collaboration to develop information infrastructure.

These streams of social, economic and institutional research will contribute directly to the design and ongoing assessment and evolution of the governance, funding, participation, engagement, communication, learning and knowledge dissemination mechanisms for information infrastructures.

Economics of Data

An aspect of Social architectures is understanding the value of data. The following webinar explains the application of the economic framework used to value the CSIRO Data Access Portal and how it could be used to value data more broadly.

Check out the report published for more details here.

Value-of-data report

Value-of-data report