The Design of Socially Sustainable Ontologies

  • Jason Hobbs
  • Terence Fenn
Research Article


This paper describes the role of information architecture in the design of socially sustainable pervasive information spaces. The framing of information architecture as an essential part of Design Thinking extends current and historic notions of the field of information architecture. The discussion introduces the notion of the ‘contrived ontology’ which can be understood as the intentional meaning that design infuses in its artefacts, services and systems. Further, we argue that contrived ontology aligns with central themes within humanistic frameworks which view reality as subjective construct. This forms the central theoretical meditation herein: we contend that while design is always an act of interpreted cultural determination, at the scale of Floridi’s infosphere, the immediacy and immersive social reality of technology will become frictionless within our human experience. As this occurs, there is a moral and ethical imperative to ensure social sustainability and to this end that the meanings and intentions that inform the mature design of our human-made world are visible and accountable. It is towards this end that information architecture can make a valuable contribution.


Information architecture Design Thinking Infosphere Ontology Cultural studies Critical theory 



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Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Multimedia, Faculty of Art, Design & ArchitectureUniversity of JohannesburgJohannesburgSouth Africa

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