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Chapter 3: A Commons Perspective to Unde... > INFORMATION INFRASTRUCTURES AS COMMO... - Pg. 43

A Commons Perspective to Understanding the Development of Information Infrastructures an impact on subsequent technological solutions and services (e.g. Google's path from a simple search engine to a comprehensive digital content provider). Finally, there are "switching costs" of changing from one information infrastructure to another once users have been "locked-in" the technology (e.g. changing suppliers, compat- ible applications, financial costs, organizational change implications, etc) (see Hanseth, 2001 for an extensive discussion of network externalities on information infrastructures). Indeed, information infrastructures, due to their combined private and public good properties and associated network externalities, are always torn between negotiations around the extent to which they remain open and shared by a growing diver- sity of users (cf. Hanseth, 2001; Star & Ruhleder, 1996) and negotiations around ways of regulating their use. Institutional rules for regulating use may refer to property rights regimes (Benkler, 2006; Lessig, 2001), standards (e.g. Monteiro, 1998), conventions of practice (e.g. Bowker & Star, 1999), or decision-making structures (e.g. Weill & Broadbent, 1998; Weill & Ross, 2004). These institutional rules are negotiated between interested parties towards specific outcomes, both intended­such as, technical integration and returns on investment (Weill & Ross, 2004)­and unintended­such as, asymmetrical integration and political-technical consequences (Sahay et al., 2009). In the next section, information infrastructures are approached from a commons perspective, which is sensitive to the three key areas identified in the literature review in Chapter 2. These include the multilevel context in which an information infrastructure is developed (i.e. how open this context is and with what implications), the nego- tiations around regulating access, use, and other decisions on infrastructural resources, and finally the intended and unintended outcomes emerging from the implemented technologies. INFORMATION INFRASTRUCTURES AS COMMONS The most widely used framework in commons studies is the Institutional Analysis and Develop- ment (IAD) framework, which has been effectively utilized as an analytical tool to understand the conflicts and social dilemmas that arise from negotiating appropriate structures for managing large-scale systems (e.g. Agrawal, 1999; Ander- son & Hoskins, 2004; Heikkila & Isett, 2004; Polski, 2003). More recently, Ostrom and Hess (2007) have adapted the IAD framework for studies of digital or information-based commons, which exhibit closer links to information infrastructures than traditional commons. In their discussion of the IAD framework, Ostrom and Hess identify three broad sets of interconnected elements that are considered to be the underlying factors affecting the development of a commons and which broadly reflect key themes highlighted in the information infrastructure literature. One set refers to context, including the char- acteristics of the physical and material world (e.g. a forest), the attributes of the community producing and using a resource, and the property rights regimes affecting the decisions and actions of interested parties. Another set refers to actions, including how people cooperate or not with each other in various circumstances, and the incentives and control structures they employ to influence each other's actions. A third set refers to outcomes, including the conflicts and agreements that arise out of patterns of interaction between diverse parties, and the outcomes that are generated from those patterns. What differentiates the IAD framework from extant approaches to understanding the develop- ment of information infrastructures is the consid- eration of property rights regimes. As mentioned earlier, previous research on information infra- structure development has placed great emphasis on negotiations around competing interests toward 43