Presentation of our research in Map Camp 2019

Roser Pujadas presented in Map Camp 2019 some of the findings of the research she is conducting with Will Venters and Mark Thompson on Wardley Maps.

Map Camp is a yearly event that brings together a community interested in Wardley Maps, a tool used to support strategic decision-making by helping organizations develop situational awareness. More than 600 people from across the globe attended this year’s Map Camp in Sadler’s Wells Theatre (London). Presentations were recorded and will be available @map_camp.

Roser’s presentation explored the social dimensions of mapping and sensemaking. Instead of thinking about Wardley Maps as a tool, she suggests to consider mapping as an active doing, an ongoing process that involves making knowledge explicit through visualisation. Wardley Maps constitute a common language that facilitate communication and collaboration, and can also be used to gain legitimacy. As our research shows, most mappers see the main value of mapping in the process, in the discussions that are generated through mapping and interpreting maps, and not so much in the production of ‘a perfect map’. In fact, as Roser went on to argue, all maps are partial, and reveal some things but obscure others.

Paper published in a volume on Thinking Infrastructures

Pujadas, R., Curto-Millet, D. (2019) Thinking infrastructures and decentering digital platforms in the sharing economy: From matchmaking to boundary making. In Kornberger, M., Bowker, G., Pollock, N., Miller, P., Mennicken, A., Randa Nucho, J., Elyachar, J. (Eds.) Thinking infrastructures. Research in the Sociology of Organizations. Vol. 62 (Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Bingley, UK), pp. 273–286. https://www.emerald.com/insight/content/doi/10.1108/S0733-558X20190000062017/full/html

Abstract:

While digital platforms tend to be unproblematically presented as the infrastructure of the sharing economy – as matchmakers of supply and demand – the authors argue that constituting the boundaries of infrastructures is political and performative, that is, it is implicated in ontological politics, with consequences for the distribution of responsibilities (Latour, 2003; Mol, 1999, 2013; Woolgar & Lezaun, 2013). Drawing on an empirical case study of Uber, including an analysis of court cases, the authors investigate the material-discursive production of digital platforms and their participation in the reconfiguring of the world (Barad, 2007), and examine how the (in)visibility of the digital infrastructure is mobilized (Larkin, 2013) to this effect. The authors argue that the representation of Uber as a “digital platform,” as “just the technological infrastructure” connecting car drivers with clients, is a political act that attempts to redefine social responsibilities, while obscuring important dimensions of the algorithmic infrastructure that regulates this socioeconomic practice. The authors also show how some of these (in)visibilities become exposed in court, and some of the boundaries reshaped, with implications for the constitution of objects, subjects and their responsibilities. Thus, while thinking infrastructures do play a role in regulating and shaping practice through algorithms, it could be otherwise. Thinking infrastructures relationally decentre digital platforms and encourage us to study them as part of ongoing and contested entanglements in practice.

Keywords: Digital infrastructures; digital platforms; sharing economy; algorithms; performativity; Uber

IRIS Research outputs and publications:

Paper accepted for the ECIS2019 conference:

ECIS, the European Conference on Information Systems, is the meeting platform for European and international researchers in the field of Information Systems. This 27th edition will take place in Sweeden. We will present our paper in the “Rethinking IS Strategy and Governance in the Digital Age” research track.

Abstract:

We discuss the little-explored construct of situational awareness, which will arguably become increasingly important for strategic decision-making in the age of distributed service ecosystems, digital infrastructures, and microservices. Guided by a design science approach, we introduce a mapping artefact with the ability to enhance situational awareness within, and across, horizontal value chains, and evaluate its application in the field amongst both IS practitioners and IS researchers. We make suggestions for further research into both construct and artefact, and provide insights on their use in practice.

Keywords: Situational awareness, Distributed systems, Design Science, Strategy, Digital Ecosystems, Digital Infrastructure, modularity, servitization.