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Creating complex information
systems: using ICTs to cover the last
Anahi Ayala Iacucci
Information ecosystems are complex adaptive
systems that include information infrastructure,
tools, media, producers, consumers, and
sharers. They are complex organizations of
dynamic social relationships; information moves
and transform in flows. Through information
ecosystems, information appears as a master
resource, like energy, the lack of which makes
everything else more difficult.
1. Information needs
Information needs is the need of information
that people have that would allow them to
make decisions. Are they known to information
producers? Are they known to information
consumers? Are the needs of all groups being
served? Populations’ information needs are
diverse and changing.
2. Information landscape
An Information landscape is the physical and
institutional infrastructure that support
information production and flow. What are the
characteristics of the information providers?
What are the intermediary organizations: media,
government, private industry, civil society? Are
they robustly equipped to verify, filter, sort, and
3. Production and movement
Production and movement refer to the variety of
types of information available (e.g. government
services, community news). Who are the producers
of information and the owners of the means of
production and dissemination? What is the role of
word of mouth, social media, bulletin boards, and
other local information hubs? (How) are rapid
changes in internet and mobile media impacting
the flow of information? What types of content are
available and to whom? How does the perspective
on these dynamics shift if information flows are
framed as storytelling?
4. Dynamic of access
Dynamic of access is the environment in which
information flows (e.g. political, cultural, time,
cost, and other factors)? How easy is it for
residents to access, find, use, and share different
types of information? What are the barriers to
participation? What about the broader
structures that influence access: governance,
legal, political, economic, and infrastructural
factors affecting access?
Use: What does the audience / users do with
the information? How is it processed,
disseminated, and applied? Does information
facilitate civic engagement?
6. Impact of information
Impact of information is how information has
enabled or constrained individual and
community opportunity, health, and economic
development. How does the community
organize around different types of information?
(How) has information informed community
planning and action? How has information
affected policy and implementation?
7. Social trust
Social trust is how the networks of trust
influence the flow and use of information. How
is trust built around information? Where are the
disruptions in trust tied to information (or its
lack)? What are the challenges in building trust
around information flows?
Influencers: Who are the people, organizations,
and institutions that influence how information
flows? Who builds trust and how? How do
points of influence shift over time, especially