Terminology and the social value of data

January 12, 2007

So a colleague says to me, “You know, every example you give to me of a second-order effect seems to me to be either political or social. Why don’t you just call it the ‘social value’ of the data?”

I sputtered, “No, no, they have real economic impact. Look at the Pinto…”

“Blah, blah, blah. So? Social problems cost money, too.”

The more I think about it, the more I like his term. I hold that in a disaster recovery planning exercise, there are two types of second-order effect:

  1. The social value of the asset, which is the part that most often, in my experience, does the real biting, and
  2. The expanded failure domain of the asset, which are the applications that depend on the applications that depend on the data. It’s worth noting here that strictly speaking, there is no such thing as an “expanded” failure domain: failure domain membership is transitive. But I still call it out explicitly, to make sure that it is accounted for.

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