Introducing the Economic Sustainability Reference Model (ESRM)
The purpose of a reference model is to help cut through complexity and highlight key concepts, relationships, and decision points in a complex problem space. It should also help the user of the reference model to benchmark and compare their own local models with an exemplar which has broad acceptance from a community that is relevant to the activity in question. It is clear that the economics of sustaining digital assets (by means of digital curation) is exactly the kind of complex area that might benefit from such a reference model.
What does the ESRM look like?
The ESRM proposes that a sustainability strategy requires consideration of four categories of issues:
- The Economic Lifecycle - the economic 'context' in which curation occurs
- Sustainability Conditions - the conditions that must be met to achieve sustainability
- Key Entities - the curation environment including digital assets, the curation process and stakeholders who must make decisions to ensure the sustainability conditions are met.
- Economic Uncertainties- forms of uncertainty that present challenges in regard to achieving the sustainability conditions.
The activity of digital curation is assumed to be the central active component and the engine that will ensure the sustainability of digital assets. Investment into curation will in turn facilitate use (or the potential for use), and use (or the potential for use) will realise value, thereby delivering a return on the investment. This could play out in a linear fashion with assets being created, curated and then deleted according to a retention schedule. But in the context of sustainability, it is more likely to be a cyclical process as demonstrated in the ESRM diagram above.
Read the Report
Take the ESRM Self-Assessment