The project is developed as a comparative case study in order to contrast and compare DI’s institutional practices, drawing from and extending Finger, Groenwegen, and Kunneke’s (2005) infrastructure governance framework. While this has been developed primarily to study and contrast large-scale physical infrastructures (like transportation or power), its value is on focusing analytic attention to institutions that participate in a DI and the ways they behave around resources and goals. Given the premise of scale, leveraging the Finger framework provides a basis for more ambitious analyses, moving beyond the technologically-oriented (but institutionally naïve) discourses of much of the CI literature and more specifically engaging the burgeoning infrastructural studies literature.
RQ1: What are the common and unique aspects of digital infrastructure governance?
RQ2: How do digital infrastructures coordinate the interoperability, interconnection, capacity management and systems management of these digital technologies and practices?
The first research question focuses attention to detailing the ways in which DIs operate, make choices, distribute resources, negotiate issues, and offer services. These decisions both frame and are shaped by the combination of scientific practices, the participant’s interests, current technologies and their development trajectories, and the structure and form of data. The second research question focuses specifically on the relationships among the pertinent DI characteristics, digital technologies, and governance. As outlined below, while each DI will be distinguished by its peculiar and unique collection of informational and technological elements, there will certainly be patterns across these ‘digital assemblages.’ Identifying and articulating these patterns and structures is at the heart of this project.
Pursuing these research questions provides the following intellectual merit:
(1) Focusing on governance focuses attention to how DIs evolve relative to the ways in which they develop and support interoperability, interconnectivity, systems and capacity management. This approach specifically foregrounds the detailed analytic depiction of the DI’s technological elements in support of more technologically robust social analytic approaches to studying computing.
(2) Pursuing a comparative analysis provides empirical heft regarding how various ICT assemblages support the interconnection, interoperability, capacity and systems management of DI resources.
(3) Building on empirical insights, the results of this work will also inform current theorizing on DI governance and coordination.
The broader impacts of this project are:
Improving governance of shared digital resources extends well beyond the scientific focus of this study!