Social Architecture – the social, institutional and economic lens on Information Infrastructure

Mr Paul Box2, Mr Kheeran Dharmawardena1

1Cytrax Consulting, , Australia,

2CSIRO, Black Mountain, Australia


Information infrastructure used by research comprising systems, data, processes and people providing this infrastructure (provider community) has evolved to underpin specific communities (user communities) with specialised software and hardware requirements. Underpinning research user communities is challenging: software and data in cutting edge areas advances quickly meaning that software infrastructure can fast become irrelevant; research is naturally competitive, which makes collaboration a finely tuned balance; and building models for sustainability is challenging.

A range of inter-related social, institutional and economic factors can act as enablers of, or constraints on, effective collaborative effort necessary to build and sustain research information infrastructure.  An emerging area of interdisciplinary research, labelled Social architecture, is being developed to address the social, institutional and economic concerns around the implementation and management of these information infrastructures.

This oral presentation will look at the current thinking around Social architecture, and the need for considering the function of a Social architect in planning and designing research information infrastructure.


Paul Box leads a CSIRO research team developing interoperable systems of systems or ‘Information Infrastructure’. Paul has worked for more than 25 years in geospatial information technology field.

More recently, Paul has focused attention on addressing the social rather than technical challenges of building Information Infrastructure. Coherent integrated approaches to addressing the social, institutional and economic challenges of infrastructure development are being elaborated through ‘social architecture’.

Mr. Kheeran Dharmawardena, MBA, B.Comp., is the managing director of Cytrax consulting, a consulting firm specialising in information infrastructure for research.  Kheeran has over 2 decades of experience in delivery of many ICT services within the higher education and research sector, including infrastructure delivery, service delivery, data management, IT & enterprise architecture and eResearch.  He has a special interest in the socio-technical challenges involved in the delivery of effective services.


AeRO is the industry association focused on eResearch in Australasia. We play a critical coordination role for our members, who are actively transforming research via Information Technology. Organisations join AeRO to advance their own capabilities and services, to collaborate and to network with peers. AeRO believes researchers and the sector significantly benefit from greater communication, coordination and sharing among the increasingly different and evolving service providers.

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