The Ambivalent Ontology of Digital Artifacts

Jannis Kallinikos, Aleksi Aaltonen, Attila Marton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

549 Citations (Scopus)


Digital artifacts become increasingly embedded in wider and constantly shifting eco-systems that turn them editable, interactive, reprogrammable and distributed. This state of flux and constant transfiguration renders the value and utility of these arti-facts contingent on shifting webs of functional relations with other artifacts across specific contexts and organizations. By the same token, it apportions control over the development and use of these artifacts over a range of dispersed stakeholders and makes their management a complex technical and social undertaking. These ideas are illustrated with reference to 1) provenance and authenticity of digital documents with-in the overall context of archiving and social memory and 2) the content dynamics occasioned by the findability of content mediated by Internet search engines. We con-clude that the steady change and transfiguration of digital artifacts signal a shift of epochal dimensions that calls for rethinking some of the inherited wisdom in IS re-search and practice.
Original languageEnglish
Peer-reviewed scientific journalMIS Quarterly
Issue number2
Pages (from-to)357-370
Number of pages14
Publication statusPublished - 2013
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article - refereed


  • 512 Business and Management
  • Digital Artifacts
  • Digital Objects
  • Archives
  • Search Engines
  • Information Platforms and Infrastructures
  • Modularity
  • Reflexivity
  • Change
  • KOTA2013


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