Virtual Acts of Balance! Virtual Technologies of Knowledge‑Management as co‑Produced by Social Intentions and Technical Limitations

Bidragets oversatte titel: Virtuelle balanceakter!: Virtuelle vidensteknologier som co-producerede mellem social intentioner og tekniske begrænsninger

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This paper presents an analysis of official documents and white papers pertaining to the two web-portals The Policy Grid Project and FEED that are launched by the UK and the EU respectively. The aim of the portals is to filter and synthesize information relevant for policy discussions and thereby improve 'knowledge-democracy' in different ways. The paper denotes such portals 'virtual technologies of knowledge management' and it uses the documental data as a window to analyze and discuss the infrastructural choices of such portals.

The analysis is grounded in theories related to 'Social Construction of Technology' and it shows how the framing of the portals and the concrete digital choices taken in relation to the infrastructure are influenced by the social intentions of relevant social groups as well as by the technical limitations on computers abilities to process semantic data. It is especially emphasized how technical web-ontologies implicitly carries with them deeper philosophical ontologies about phanomena such as 'politic', 'scientific intentionality' and 'freedom'. The compromise between these technical influences and the social intentions is described as a 'virtual act of balance'.

The paper accordingly concludes that there is a co-production of technical infrastructures and social values taking place in the process of designing these types of portals and it is thereby illustrated that if machines are to play a significant role in policy-making it is necessary that part of the policy-making process is formalized. This kind of information-processing makes software increasingly powerful and there is therefore a need for the 'e-governance community' to be reflexive about this development and constantly ponder the trade-offs between structured semantics and looser types of classification.
Bidragets oversatte titelVirtuelle balanceakter!: Virtuelle vidensteknologier som co-producerede mellem social intentioner og tekniske begrænsninger
TidsskriftElectronic Journal of e-Government
Udgave nummer2
Sider (fra-til)183-197
Antal sider15
StatusUdgivet - dec. 2013


  • e-governance
  • knowledge-democracy
  • socio-semantic web
  • social construction of technology
  • discourse analysis