TOWARDS A PROCESSUAL PERSPECTIVE ON ARCHITECTURE - Building an Information Infrastructure for Personalized Medicine


  • Margunn Aanestad University of Oslo, Oslo University Hospital
  • Johan Ivar Sæbø University of Oslo, Oslo University Hospital
  • Thomas Grünfeld University of Oslo, Oslo University Hospital


In this paper we discuss the emergence of architecture, understood as the structured relationship between components in suites of software systems. We aim to formulate a processual perspective on architecture, implying that we emphasize the process of emergence over time as opposed to the usual time-invariant, static views that dominate architecture discourses, i.e. architecture as process as opposed to architecture as a model. We also intend to foreground the actual practices of “architecting”, emphasizing architecture as an accomplishment rather than as a given. Finally, we specifically focus on the handling of temporal issues in this process. Architectures are crucially related with the longterm perspective and are built upon predictions of the future, but in reality they are also shaped through compromises between long-term and short-term demands. As our empirical case we describe the emergence of a new information infrastructure for personalized medicine, where we describe the emerging configuration of elements and component and how they were put into a structured relationship. Theoretically, we draw on the notion of “shearing layers”(Brand, 1994) used to denote subsystems with different rates of change. We show how considerations about expected rate of change was a significant factor shaping the emergent architecture in the case study. 



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