Announcing the ‘Decentralised Data Governance Pattern Library’: Exploring social arrangements around technical protocols to support resilience
Yesterday marked the launch of the Decentralised Data Governance Pattern Library. The library attends to the social arrangements surrounding data management to improve resilience.
Resilience, here, refers to adaptability and transformability in response to external threats, internal vulnerabilities, and opportunities. The social science approach I take focuses on the affordances of decentralised technologies in terms of resilience for individuals and groups of people (or in other words, the social outcomes).
This tool emerges from over 2 years of research on resilience in decentralised technologies. Specifically, ‘how can decentralised data management be more resilient?’.
The aim of the library is to present research and user experiences to share ‘patterns’ for decentralised data management (including content addressing, encryption, storage, and governance, across a range of contexts).
The idea for a pattern library arose from previous work on decentralised data patterns that I contributed to. Software design patterns are general, reproducible solutions to a commonly occurring problem within a given context in software design.
My digital ethnographic research on resilience in decentralised data management found that resilience can be improved by addressing ‘gateway moments’ when infrastructure is bridged or scaled (for example, when addressed content is linked to a storage solution), via institutional infrastructure.
Institutional infrastructure just means addressing the social arrangements that surround how people engage with technology. This includes the set of legal, cultural, economic, and social institutions that enable and constrain actions (Hinings, et. al., 2017).
Similar to software patterns, institutional infrastructure patterns are organisational arrangements that are reproducible.
The Decentralised Data Governance Pattern Library demonstrates how people can compose technical protocols and social patterns into complex, socio-technical systems that are resilient for those that use them.
You can read the patterns here, and add a Pull Request for any additional patterns or contexts you think should be included!
The library is now available as a resource for people to consider and contribute to. The research is ongoing!
Building on previous work on ‘DAOs as Data Trusts’, the next step in my project plan is to further investigate one of the most opaque patterns of all, that of the “Data DAO”.
This includes exploring existing instantiations of data DAOs (for example, ‘SupersetDAO’, Filecoin Virtual Machine DAOs, and data governance arrangements for cultural artefacts). This will be augmented by deeper consideration of the technical requirements for actually building a data DAO, thanks to the good folk at BlockScience (who I also work with).
Some key research threads I’m pursuing have been informed by my research focus on accountability in contexts of private or ‘self’ governance. These include:
· How social-institutional arrangements of data management relate to existing institutional frameworks (including legal, multi-stakeholder institutional (e.g. W3C, IETF, etc), and others),
· What this means for accountability, in terms of who is accountable to who, across multiple institutions, at multiple scales, and,
· How accountability operates at the hardware infrastructural layer of compute. This line of research is particularly pertinent as it relates to my ongoing interest in AI governance, and Filecoin ecosystem efforts such as project ‘Lilypad’, a decentralised marketplace for compute.
Data Governance Pattern Library — Patterns:
Data Governance Pattern Library — Ways to Contribute:
Decentralised Data Governance Pattern Library (front-end web page): https://beta.portrait.gg/0x1018c3A71997D2171E915ea89f704d9a192823EF (portrait is a cool, IPFS backed application)
IPFS Implementation Principles: https://blog.ipfs.tech/2023-03-implementation-principles/
Nabben, K. “Decentralized Technology in Practice: Social and technical resilience in IPFS,” 2022 IEEE 42nd International Conference on Distributed Computing Systems Workshops (ICDCSW), Bologna, Italy, 2022, pp. 66–72, https://ieeexplore.ieee.org/document/9951370
Funding the Commons talk on research findings (October, 2023): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5yT-jd3BfA4
Note: This work has been supported by the Filecoin Foundation Dev Grants program (I believe the first social science oriented one, which I’m very grateful for).