What Makes Data Possible? A Sociotechnical View on Structured Data Innovations

Aaltonen, Aleksi
Penttinen, Esko
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Drawing from the theory of digital objects, this paper examines the distinction between structured and unstructured data as carriers of facts. We argue that data do not ‘have’ a structure but are made by a structure that confers data their capacity to represent contextual facts. We employ a case vignette involving XBRL (eXtensible Business Reporting Language) and its use in statutory financial reporting to illustrate and explore the sociotechnical nature of data and to describe what we call data innovations: new valuable ways to render phenomena as data. We find that data structure is best viewed as a matter that is relative to a purpose in a context. Theorizing data from a sociotechnical perspective could evolve to provide, in effect, the material science of digital economy.
Digital Innovation, Transformation, and Entrepreneurship, data innovations, sociotechnical perspective, structured data, vignette, xbrl (extensible business reporting language)
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