ID+ | An Interdisciplinarity Model


In today's academic world, more and more research projects are interdisciplinary in nature. Increasingly, research funding programs demand that interdisciplinary modes of operation be applied. This development is due to the realization that tackling complex problems from the perspective of a single discipline often proves inadequate. A more heterogeneous approach is required.

It was for this reason that the Interdisciplinary Image Knowledge Gestaltung of Humboldt Universität zu Berlin was formed in 2012. It includes academic staff and students from more than 40 disciplines and its goal is to investigate processes of Gestaltung in the sciences and humanities. For the first time, two disciplines associated with Gestaltung – architecture and design – are included in pure research alongside the humanities, natural sciences and technology. The Interdisciplinary Laboratory thus combines disciplines that had previously not converged, or only rarely. Such experimental interdisciplinarity must first try out its own functionality, find common objectives, establish communication channels and make divergences productive. The aim is to forge those innovative approaches and arrive at those new perspectives that emerge only through dialogue between the disciplines.

Furthermore, the Interdisciplinary Laboratory sets out to explore this particular form of extended interdisciplinary collaboration in itself. The underlying empirical task seeks to investigate, test, analyze and experiment with the functionality and forms of interdisciplinarity. The resulting areas of work are many, since there is a decidedly wide variety of interdisciplinary structure – which naturally leads to multiple perspectives and methodical approaches. Such experimental constellations of projects and knowledge represent special challenges in relation to their structural compilation, multi-perspective description and analysis in the form of meta-research to accompany a project. This is the central interest of the authors of this publication, who as members of the Interdisciplinary Laboratory are working both within, and on, the laboratory. The aim of the research is to arrive at an overarching theory and a general understanding of the forms of interdisciplinarity.

To this end, the team of authors has developed the ID+Model The model lays down important elements and categories for describing and recording interdisciplinary collaboration. It defines how these may be used to elaborate specific interdisciplinary situations. The ID+Model is used to produce concrete diagrams, which are applicable in the analysis of detailed interdisciplinary constellations and processes. In this sense, the ID+Model should be understood as an instrument of analysis that provides a defined system of recording and describing situations, and thereby allows for investigation, comparison, observation and communication of these situations. The resulting formalized description has a dedicated focus on elements that are particularly relevant to interdisciplinarity. The model can also be used for simulating and drafting interdisciplinary collaboration, whereby it becomes an instrument of Gestaltung.

The need for the ID+Model arises from the fact that the observable modes of operation of diverse projects in the Interdisciplinary Laboratory are widely disparate, and cannot moreover be reduced to the participating disciplines. If interdisciplinarity is to be more than the sum of its constituent disciplines, then a knowledge and understanding of all relevant elements are essential for its success.

Beyond these specific aims, the ID+Model also aims to make a contribution to the current Open Science debate. It is the conviction of the authors that researchers in particular should reveal not only the results of research but also, and in equal measure, the processes that gave rise to them. The elements that go into the creation of knowledge are responsible to a great extent for the form or design of results and, as such, they are important aspects of results. An account of the processes and circumstances under which knowledge was gained allows other researchers to evaluate, replicate, quality-check and place different interpretations on results in a completely new way. Above all it allows them to learn new approaches. Better academic work is, in this sense, more transparent academic work in respect of the actual methods involved. In many places today, stronger requirements are being stipulated for complete openness about the algorithms and raw data that underlie published results; in like manner, the conditions under which results are produced should be accessible. The ID+Model affords the ability to model work conditions relatively easily and to make important aspects of a research project visible and available. There are benefits both for the authors, in the form of increased visibility and for the academic system as a whole, which, especially in interdisciplinary research, still has to contend with far too many unknown elements.

The ID+ prefix is an acronym, whereby ID stands for both InterDisciplinarity and IDentity. The plus sign suggests an empty space and what might follow; something that cannot be expressed through the logic of the disciplines alone, but which is an important determinant of research actors' identities.


To arrive at an understanding in an objective way as possible, this study will use a descriptive approach that exemplifies, formalizes, models and explains an actual process that has been observed. The period of modelling is one year, during which time all the main observations are continually documented in the form of situation descriptions. The study serves two functions. First, the methods used can be illustrated and assessed for value; second, the main elements of interdisciplinary collaboration are rendered recognizable and analyzable.

Following an actor-oriented approach, all all these elements are understood as actors and given capital letters to highlight their agency: actors are in this sense not only human actors such as Persons, but also non-human actors such as Methods and Tools used, the Topics under discussion, the Tasks awaiting processing, the Places, Events and Organizations of collaboration, the received and self-generated Sources and the Monies and Times available. Actors possess their own agency and relations to other actors. They gather as clusters of actors, and may disperse again.

The ID+Model is oriented toward network-topological structures. It specifies actor categories and makes their relations and interactions transparent. These structures can be represented in, or constructed as, diagrams. Interaction and changes in structure are of course essential: it is through them that aspects of modelling such as functional failure, obstacles and influences from otherwise invisible background actors are made plain. At the same time, one finds that in modelling, certain patterns that diverge from typical assumptions about interdisciplinarity become empirically visible, revealing alternative ways of improving their formulation. Hence, from concrete observations, general assumptions can gradually be deduced about interdisciplinarity, or the specific forms of interdisciplinarity.


The following three-column structure emerges from the questions and goals: the left column of the model contains an explanation of the theory behind it, as well as a specification of actor classes. The contents are structured and compressed in such a way that when read as a whole they serve as an introduction to the theory; it is also possible to use them to look up methods. The middle column of the study contains the 27 relevant situations of an interdisciplinary collaboration in the form of chronologically arranged diagrams, accompanied by descriptions. The right column amalgamates theoretical analysis, contextualization and interpretation of the study as well as modelling.

The unusual format allows for interrelations between the three columns to be pointed out, especially those that have a non-linear and non-hierarchical bearing on each other. It also allows for sections of text or diagrams to be juxtaposed based on context, and thus to be rearranged dynamically according to the inclination of the reader. Finally, this format shows that all three columns have an equal weighting. The ID+Model should be seen as an overall picture whose parts have equal validity, and which can be approached from any side.

Thus, reading can begin according to the individual's preference, in any column or position; the reader can jump over to other parts when necessary. This enables a more individual, interactive use of the table whose format anticipates active reading strategies – which involve looking up references, 'jumping about', skimming, making notes and recombining. It is furthermore a better reflection of the process of producing text, with the potential for close relations and development involving each of the three columns. Of course, a linear reading and organization of text is still possible; it is simply no longer a requirement. On another level, the idea is to encourage interdisciplinary publications in particular to tread new paths – better suited to content and audience for instance, or experimental in nature – without the publication and discourse traditions peculiar to a discipline.


The ID+Model is intended for anyone planning interdisciplinary research or already engaged in it, as well as those wishing to expand, better understand or actively improve interdisciplinary research. People who have already worked in interdisciplinary constellations will know of the enormous difficulties and delays that can arise if projects are inadequately structured. This involves many actors that were not normally considered at the planning stage, were never before deemed relevant or that had to be added retrospectively. But, for the success of a project it is essential that these actors be understood, actively included and kept in view – particularly in non-stereotypical, innovative constellations. The ID+Model provides the tool, the theoretical foundation and the practical experience to make interdisciplinarity more understandable and plannable. In this regard, it is designed for project planners and managers, advisors and organization management; for designers, architects, sociologists, ethnologists and meta-researchers who wish to analyze work structures in innovation fields; but also for funding bodies, experts and appraisers of scientific policy who aim to foster more successful constellations, or improve existing ones.


The ID+Model has been constructed in a way that permits the production of diagrams using analogue and digital media. This allows the visual vocabulary to be simply set up on paper or a whiteboard, without additional equipment. For a still more effective use of the whiteboard, it is possible to produce visual symbols of actors as magnetic elements that can be placed at will on the whiteboard and connected by drawn lines. Digital alternatives are for example the Keynote or PowerPoint programs. Modelling can thus be incorporated in presentations such that a model can be elaborated in stages or through animation. Similarly, all vector-based graphic programs such as Adobe Illustrator or Inkscape are suited to the process. Visual modelling tools such as VUE (Visual Understanding Environment) can also be used. The topological definition or application of other means can also be achieved with the class or object diagrams of UML (Unified Modelling Language), which is supported by many programs. A purely logical representation can be achieved with ontology languages such as RDF, RDFS and OWL, which in turn form the starting point for various visualization environments.


Michael Dürfeld (Architecture) and Christian Stein (Germanistics, Information Technology) invented, developed the concept for and wrote "ID+ An Interdisciplinarity Model". Anika Schultz (Design) is responsible for the icons. Technical implementation was by Sammy David (Information Technology). Textual reference points were integrated in the HTML structure by Laura-Maria Heinz (Architecture). Horst Bredekamp (Image Studies) and Wolfgang Schäffner (Cultural Science) contributed important comments and corrections. The Excellence Cluster Image Knowledge Gestaltung, funded by DFG (the German Research Foundation) provided resources and thereby made the publication possible. The Image Knowledge Gestaltung project ID+Lab, which is located in the Excellence Cluster, adopted and further developed the ID+Model so that it could be used to generate the interdisciplinary publication platform ID+Stage as well as the modelling tool ID+App.




▶ Content

M1 Actors

With the aim of producing a formalized account of interdisciplinary structures, we first set out 11 parameters that are particularly relevant to this aim. These parameters are not seen as passive attributes, but as active actors who are dynamically complicit in the shaping of interdisciplinary structures. All the parameters outlined below are described as 'actors', whether they are living persons, social systems, physical objects, digital spaces, abstract concepts, resources or dynamic processes. Specifically, the 11 actors are: Persons, Organizations, Topics, Methods, Tasks, Sources, Tools, Events, Places, Times and Monies. Initially, all these actors are accorded equal weighting. Above all, they should be seen as abstract actors, which will generally be elaborated upon and named in the respective modelling context. In other descriptive contexts it is possible for more actors to be added, or for certain others to be removed from the list. The actors presented here have proven suited to the description of interdisciplinary constellations.

M2 Classes and Individual Actors

With respect to actors, a basic differentiation must be made between classes and individual actors. Classes constitute an abstract quantity whose affiliates are characterized by the same properties. Individual actors are on the other hand specific, in the shape of the Person "Max" or the Source "Laboratory Life" or the Task "Enquiry". Often, individual actors are also referred to as instances. More exactly stated, the difference lies in the fact that individual actors exist independently of their class. When it comes to classification, they are allocated to a certain class. Instances, on th e other hand, are examples of a class. The class exists first and defines all the properties of the instance. Typically, instances are a feature of object-oriented software development, whereby classes are programmed, which may then be instanced as required. In the context we are discussing here, we speak of individual actors, although these will in the following be included under the general term actors.

M3 Specialization

Beside the difference between classes and individual actors, there may be additional relations at class level. For example, it is possible to define more general superordinate classes and more special subordinate (sub-) classes; these are in a hierarchical relation to each other. Typically, a superordinate class has several sub-classes. A subordinate class is by definition always its own superordinate class too, i.e., it inherits a complete set of characteristics and definitions but adds further stipulations to this set. The relation between superordinate and sub-class is called specialization. Hence the superordinate class 'laboratory member' may feature the sub-classes 'research assistant', 'investigator' or 'student assistant'. A 'research assistant' is a 'laboratory member' and is thus a specialization under this class. The actor classes described in the ID+Model are the most abstract superordinate classes. They can be divided into several sub-class levels. ›Laboratory member‹ is thus a sub-class of the abstract actor class ›Person‹. Thus, entire hierarchical trees can be formed. However, introducing additional sub-classes is not recommended unless the classification serves the modelling purpose, clarifying a significant difference.

M4 Actual and Potential Actors

A differentiation can be made between actual and potential actors. Actual actors are those that exist and are known. Generally, the actors in the model are actual actors. But the model provides for contrasting potential actors. These are as yet unknown, or even non-existent; the concept serves as a marker of an unoccupied position, which can be occupied by an actual actor. Potential actors do not have to be fully defined and are characterized by a kind of openness with regard to their possible occupation. A potential actor may for instance be a Topic that is only just developing and has not yet been concretized. A Person being sought to fill a job vacancy would also be construed as a potential actor - she or he is unnamed at present, but may already manifest some ties that correspond to requirements, for example.

M5 Ties

All actors can possess ties with other actors. 'Ties' here means all types of connections within which the tied actors have a bearing on each other. How this occurs in each case will be indicated by a tie type (see M6). In modelling, it may occasionally be pragmatic to leave the tie as unspecified, to indicate first of all that there is a tie, even if it is not yet clear what type. Such ties should be given a type, at least by the second modelling phase.

The term 'tie' was chosen for its suggestion of a more binding attachment than 'relation'; this is because actors are in significant measure dependent on these ties, or defined through them. Depending on the actors entering into a tie, various types of ties can be defined. A tie between a Person actor and an Organization actor must be designated as, for instance, a relationship involving a founder, member or guest.

M6 Tie Types

Within the framework of the ID+Model , a tie is understood as a specified tie between actors, whereby a subject-predicate-object structure is formed – a so-called 'triple'. Structures of this type arise in various contexts, for instance in the Semantic Web and corresponding standards like RDF/RDFS/OWL. An example of such a tie could be as follows: ›Max‹ (subject and as a person a Person actor) cites (predicate) ›Laboratory Life‹ (object and as a book a Source actor).

This structure applies similarly to non-human actors, e.g. ›Art as a Social System‹ (subject and as a book a Source actor) ›has reference to‹ (predicate) ›Laboratory Life‹ (object and as a book a Source actor).

Specified ties mostly indicate a direction, since they tie the subject-actor with the object-actor in a specific way. Subject and object positions are not simply interchangeable. Thus, the direction of the tie shows a direction going from subject position to object position. This is shown diagrammatically though an arrow pointing to the object. In the above example, the direction of the tie ›has reference to‹ goes from the actor ›Art as a Social System‹ to ›Laboratory Life‹. For all types of tie, reverse ties can be formulated, which then gain significance if subject and object actors swap positions. The reverse tie of ›has reference to‹ could thus be ›is reference in‹.

An exception is the symmetrical type of tie, which can be read in both directions. An example of this would be ›collaborates‹, with the tie connecting two actors in the Person class. This tie can be read in both directions and is thus inherently symmetrical.

Where possible, the tie is categorized such that the tie type is allocated to the predicate of a triple. Thus, for individual actors of different actor classes, a suitable tie type can be determined. An example of the need for clarity of tie type is the tie between individual actors of the Source and Task classes. This could represent the tie type ›is material for‹ as well as the tie type ›is a result of‹. It thus becomes evident that tie types must be clarified in order for their meanings not to be lost.

M7 Tie Status

Not all ties should be understood in the sense of an actual existing relationship. Ties that represent possibilities, needs or wishes are equally important. Such possible but as yet unrealized ties are called potential ties, in contrast to actual ties, which indicate existing relationships.

M8 Tie Value

Both actual and potential ties can express a positive or negative relationship. Positive ties validate actors and strengthen their cluster. Negative ties represent encumbrances and antipathy, even to the extent of direct antagonism. Negative potential ties mean a resistance on the part of actors towards realizing these ties. Negative actual ties mean that a tie exists but that it is encountering resistance. The value of a tie can vary according to the tied actors: for one it can be positive, for another, negative.

M9 Tie Intensity

Following the concept of the cluster, both actual and potential ties between actors can vary in intensity. Intensity may be governed by various parameters such as time, interest, dependence, etc. The tie between a Person and a Source that she or he has worked with for a long time is necessarily stronger than if she or he had only briefly referred to it. Similarly, a strong interest produces stronger ties than a rudimentary interest. And the dependence of an Organization such as research project on a specific Tool can be absolute, or simply optional. Ties may be cemented or loosened for diverse reasons. For instance, an original, concrete research project may develop from spontaneous, isolated discussions; or an overseas stay by an actor may interrupt a project. In principle, the duration of existence, current value and intensity of a tie have a strengthening effect on it.

M10 Tie Transitivity

Within the cluster group, ties should not be seen in isolation. They have effects on each other. If an actor is tied to a second actor who itself possesses a strong tie to a third actor, then there as an increased likelihood of the first actor forming a tie to this third one. Similarly, the ties of an actor to two further actors can be strengthened if these two are also tied to each other.

M11 Tie Capacity

The number and intensity of ties that an actor can build with other actors are not unlimited. Rather, an actor has what is termed a 'tie capacity'. Capacity can vary from one actor to another, but is always limited. The capacity utilization of actors is determined by the number of ties and their intensity. An actor may have many ties of low intensity, or a few ties of greater intensity. The capacity of an actor is responsible for the tie-readiness of its reaction and when it slackens or dispenses with ties.

The tie capacity of individual actors is difficult to ascertain empirically, and can rarely be precisely enumerated. It is however helpful, particularly when analyzing interdisciplinary constellations, to pay attention to the load imposed on tie capacities, in order to be able to identify overloading on the one hand or tie requirements on the other. If one finds that certain ties are loosening, this may be taken as a sign of a tie capacity suffering an overload.

M12 Tie Visibility

The degree to which ties between actors are visible to other actors can vary. It may for example be necessary to know an actor very well in order to see the ties – on the other hand, they may be visible to all. Actors can influence the visibility of their ties and thus contribute strategically to the development of their cluster.

Similarly to tie capacity, tie visibility is hard to ascertain empirically. As a category of analysis it can however be worth considering, since tie visibility has a bearing on the behavior of other actors. Thus, a highly visible tie that connects an Organization to a Topic can for instance cause other actors to create ties with one or other of these actors, or, conversely, to avoid them. On the other hand, there may be reasons to say that strong ties should not be made visible, such as for instance the tie of an Event to the actor class Monies.

M13 Scaling

Actors are always defined according to a particular scale that is geared to the interests in question. At a higher level of the scale, actors become a cluster once more. Without this option of pragmatic scalability, the modelling effort would become burdensome. However it is possible to combine various scaling levels in adjacent modelling exercises. For instance, an ›Organization‹ actor may be modelled as a cluster of Persons, Tasks, Topics and Monies.

M14 Clusters

Even if it is only ever possible to pick out individual actors, their functional designation is still possible only through their context. This context consists of other actors to which ties exist or to which ties may be formed. The approach presented here makes a deliberate choice not to use the term 'network' – which refers categorically to existing ties; instead, it describes the actor context in terms of 'cluster'. The term 'cluster' has two meanings which are relevant here: in the sense of a set of connected items (such as computers) or aggregates (in physics) it implies existing ties between actors. Taken in sum, these ties have the effect of creating new entities. A cluster in the sense of a concentration of items implies the relative closeness of untied actors, which is a result of a series of potential ties. Importantly, a cluster can also be defined through non-realized ties: in other words, the consciously excluded, refused or disconnected ties, tie-seeking partners or as yet undetermined ties. Thus the term ‘cluster’ includes our actual and potential ties, and places them on an equal footing.

M15 Modelling and Visualization

Structures that function according to the modelling principles put forward here can be visualized in various ways. The visualization methods chosen here were created according to the following criteria: (1) a manageable number of visual elements, (2) combinations of symbols and colors that are easily differentiated for the best possible visual contrast, (3) freedom when positioning elements, (4) intuitive working methods, (5) easy to learn, (6) flexible in terms of add-ons and (7) compatibility with a range of tools. The format used here takes all criteria into account; this was confirmed in a series of user tests. A conscious decision was taken to resist adding other or more specialized actor classes, in order to avoid unnecessarily increasing complexity and excessive limitations to modelling freedom. The classes defined here cover all relevant actors and, at the superordinate level, achieve comparability of all models and visualizations based on these actor classes.

M16 Person

Persons means natural persons. These include members of the modelled Organization as well as external persons. Anonymous or unknown Persons can also be modelled. A legal person or entity such as an association or institution is, however, modelled not as a Person but as an Organization.

Persons typically form ties with Persons (cooperation), Organizations (affiliation), Topics (interest), Methods (competence) and Sources (publications).

Persons can be described using the following or other attributes: name, sex, academic qualification, résumé, photograph.

M17 Organization

Organizations include all formally defined types of organization and therefore include institutions. They are mostly to be understood as legal entities and pursue their own goals. Organizations can for example be universities, faculties, institutes or Excellence Clusters; they may also be associations, initiatives, companies, etc. Moreover, departments, projects, business sites or company boards are considered Organizations within another Organization. Organizations can have members, though this is not a necessity.

Typically, Organizations form ties with Persons (employees/members), Topics (goals), Monies (turnover/budget) and other Organizations (cooperation).

Organizations can be described using the following or other attributes: name, legal name and description.

M18 Topic

Topics are focused areas of content, with the aim of organizing a subject, or are designated under a superordinate term or key word. They may be detailed to varying degrees and may construct hierarchies of superordinate or sub-topics. It is not normally possible to make a clear delimitation. Topics can however be said to lend focus and priority. Often, Topics can be loosely tied to various disciplines. Topics are stated independently of their hierarchical ranking to the same degree of generality or specificity as their relevance to the context of the model.

Generally, Topics form ties with Topics (superordinate and sub-topics), Persons (interest), Sources (reference), Events (focus) and Organizations (contract).

Topics can be described using the following or other attributes: key word, quasi-synonym, description, definition.

M19 Method

Methods mean all procedures used to reach a goal. The way in which individual Methods are formulated (whether through a plan or not, recurring, etc.) depends on the Organization in which they are used. Methods include uniform or recurring patterns of action and solutions, or descriptive perspectives. Like Topics, Methods can form hierarchies and similarly, they cannot be absolutely defined. The difference between Topics and Methods consists in the fact that Topics are discussed, whereas Methods are used. Methods are used by Persons, in order to solve Tasks, to address Topics or to make use of Tools. General theories that can be applied in specific contexts should also be seen as Methods.

Generally, Methods form ties with Persons (competence), Tasks (approach), Sources (techniques) and Tools (suitability).

Methods can be described using the following or other attributes: key word, quasi-synonym, description, definition.

M20 Task

Tasks are activities that are seen as requiring completion and that are distributed and carried out by actors. They may be assigned by Persons (e.g., a senior) or Organizations, arise from Events or be self-assigned. The Task may be processed by one or more Persons, Organizations and Tools. Tasks can address Topics, have results and refer to primary material (Sources).

Generally, Tasks form ties with Topics (reference), Persons (function/execution), Events (function) and Sources (primary material/result).

Tasks can be described using the following or other attributes: name, context of origin, purpose and description, definition.

M21 Source

Sources are all natural and artificial objects that possess information value for other actors and are therefore relevant in the modelled context. Sources can be received or produced. They can include for instance texts, images, objects, practices or discussions; moreover they can include originals, compounds, prototypes, models, sketches, etc.

Generally, Sources form initial ties with Persons (reception/production) and Topics (reference).

Sources can be described using the following or other attributes: name/title, ID, description, material, color, shape, medium and structure.

M22 Tool

Tools mean physical and digital instruments that are generally used by Persons in the processing of certain types of Task. The scope of this class stretches from the purely physical Tool such as hammer, pen or paper, through purely digital Tools such as Adobe Photoshop or MathLab, to combined physical and digital forms such as a 3D printer or a CNC cutter. Tools generally form ties with Persons (competence), Sources (primary material/result) and Methods (application).

Tools generally form ties with Persons (competence), Sources (primary material/result) and Methods (application).

Tools can be described using the following or other attributes: name, version and description.  

M23 Event

Event are all happenings that are observable and that, irrespective of size, have effects on actors in the modelled context. Generally, Persons take part in Events or fulfil a specific role within them. Events have a Topic, Times of commencement and ending and a Place. A ten-minute dialogue between two Persons represents an Event, as does an exhibition lasting several months. Events may at times contain other Events (e.g. the opening of an exhibition as an Event within the exhibition itself).

Generally, Events form ties with Persons (participation/role), Places (occurrence), Topics (reference/purpose), Sources (result) and Tasks (result).

Events can be described using the following or other attributes: name and description.

M24 Place

Places are physical and digital locations in which actions and interactions occur. Physical Places can stand in an inclusive relation to each other. For instance, a building can be found in a town, a floor in a building, a room in a floor and a workstation in a room. Digital Places are mostly produced with the assistance of Tools. A Place of interaction can for instance be a room in which a chat or video conference happens. Places are relevant to modelling if they enable or prevent actions and interactions, generate closeness or distance, or make things visible or invisible.

Places generally form ties with Events (occurrence), Persons (place of work), Sources (location) and Tools (storage location).

Places can be described using the following or other attributes: name, number, purpose, size, materiality and photographs.

M25 Time

Time in the ID+Model is a resource that can be incorporated and used within the process plan. Two time spans that can be allocated to two actors in the sense of quotas, for instance, may overlap, compete or be clearly separated. A lack of Time can in certain cases be compensated for through modification, or the inclusion of other Actors. Insufficient Time for a Task could be redressed through more people working on the Task or the exclusion of Topics connected to the Task. Available Time affects tie intensity above all, but also visibility. Time is both an enabling and limiting actor, in that it can disturb or limit ties. A Time contingent may be available for a Task, which prescribes the intensity with which a Topic is processed. With respect to the use of a Place, Time periods may be available, or where this is refused, usage can be impeded.

Time periods generally form ties with Events (due date), Tasks (schedule), Monies (staff costs), Places (availability) and Persons (capacity utilization).

Time can be described using the following or other attributes: commencement, end, precision, planning or reality.

M26 Money

Money is money. Money makes it possible to employ institutions and Persons, for instance. Tasks can be solved in different ways depending on the available budget. Sources can be procured with Money, or not procured. Money enables Time quotas to be allocated to Tasks. Money, after all, means money.

Generally, Money forms ties with Organizations (turnover/budget), Persons (budget/costs), Sources (costs) and Tasks (budget).

Money can be described using the following or other attributes: currency, amount, earmarking.


▶ Content

S1 Introduction to the Study

The following is a chronological presentation of an interdisciplinary project which developed in the Interdisciplinary Laboratory over the course of roughly one year. The study begins with a workshop that is organized by academic staff and carried out monthly, or every two months. Each workshop treats various Topics, but all are concerned with interdisciplinarity. The workshops last an entire day and serve as a general communication platform for the more than 100 staff.

The study uses a series of diagrams to single out and model important situations during the development of the project. The clusters of actors presented are respectively explained in an accompanying text, with the named actors picked out in order to visually establish references to the diagram. It was decided not to repeatedly name the specific tie types between actors in the diagram for reasons of conciseness. All actors can in fact be named, but for reasons of data protection, Persons are renamed in the presentation.

It was important for the layout of the study that all diagrams be presented in one column such that they could be read in sequence, and to enable the appreciation of correlating theoretical descriptors.

The project selected for the study had not been conceived as part of the grant application of the Interdisciplinary Laboratory. It had developed from a self-organized working group, with no formal composition but with an intrinsic interest at heart, which had subsequently changed and expanded. This group had placed the Topic of games in the widest sense at the center of its discussion and work, embracing the cultural technology of games, Homo ludens, gamification, serious games, game design and motivational research. This led after a period of one year to a fixed, operational project group with members from seven disciplines.

Since the group was not obliged to comply with any kind of formal guidelines, its serves as a clear example of the typical structural characteristics found in interdisciplinary collaboration. The choice was also based on the presupposition that information about interdisciplinary work processes is most effectively gained if one concentrates on self-organizing interdisciplinary processes, which have not been structured and channeled through prior planning. Thereby, the formation of ties between actors, their subsequent dissolution or intensification and the characteristics of certain structures can be observed – free from such pre-structuring.

In overview, the study shows that certain constellations of actors stabilize and others dissolve. Ties influence not only the actors connected by them but also the cluster environment, since concentrations of actors bind them together more strongly, even in the case of neighboring ones; and individual breakups can destabilize the entire structure. It also shows however that there can be wide variety of reasons why ties are strengthened or dissolved; moreover, certain self-stabilizing elements can enter into effect. What becomes very clear is that certain actors make an effort to reinforce their respective networks and to fill gaps. It becomes apparent that stability also presupposes a freedom to dissolve ties, and conversely that spare tie capacity is required in order to establish new ties. Finally, certain structural characteristics foster stability and others obstruct it.

S2 "Serious Games" Workshop

March 28, 2013 – The interdisciplinary invention process begins with a workshop at the Interdisciplinary Laboratory Image Knowledge Gestaltung on the Topic of games in the Central Laboratory. Its aim is to get to know the cultural techniques of games and associated themes such as gamification, serious games, simulation exercises and game development in terms of academic Methods. Various workshop groups should be formed, with the aim of developing their own game.

S3 Workshop Groups

March 28, 2013 – One of the workshop groups consists of academic staff members Dagmar, Arne, Beate and Claudio. They meet in Seminar room 2.20. All bring with them previously formed networks with various actors. Each member of staff is interested in a certain Topic or is adept at using a specific Method. Arne is interested in the general Topic of ornamentality and uses the system theory Method. Dagmar is interested the critique of capitalism.

S4 Topics and Tasks

March 28, 2013 – Within the framework of teamwork, new Topics crystallize, which arise from the Task and the associated Topic. It transpires that a game of cooperation will be developed that depicts the research situation . A set of rules must be established for this game. A fixed written game description emerges from the Topics. What is still missing is the game itself, consisting of game board, figures and cards. For this, a draft of game elements must first be produced.

S5 Draft Game

March 28, 2013 – Still in the course of this workshop, the Task to draft game elements is carried out. Eckehard takes care of digital execution; workshop members give the instructions. Eckehard implements a design Method. Using the Illustrator Tool, he designs the layout of the game board and playing tokens . Concurrently, workshop members devise the game cards. Due to cost considerations, they decide not to produce these digitally, instead using the analogue tools paper and pen. The layout of the game board and playing tokens is thus the result of the Task.

S6 Game Production

March 28, 2013 – The next step is the Task of producing the game. Dazu hat sich Eckehard has volunteered to do this, since he is the only one in the group who can use the laser cutter. This is not a piece of mobile equipment; it is kept in the separate workshop. He uses the layout as a source for the laser cutter and produces the finished result of the Task, the game. Only one Person is involved in this procedure; but the Task itself arose from the interdisciplinary collaboration.

S7 Game Testing

April 4, 2013 – One week later, several Persons meet again, to play the game together. The testing Task has not yet been performed at this point. Alongside the Persons, who have developed the game, a few other interested parties also take part, thus getting to know the game, its concepts and ideas and the other co-players. During testing, the game is named 'Coopetition'. Afterward, the Coopetition game is freely available and placed in a visible spot in the Central Laboratory.

S8 Presentation of the Game

June 1, 2013 – The opening of the Interdisciplinary Laboratory is an Event that invites people to a presentation of the activities carried out there. Various groups will be working on the identification of exhibition objects. The Persons allocated to this task remember the Coopetition Idea and its superordinate Topic, the game. They deem that this represents a suitable exhibition object. They allocate themselves the Task of implementation in a suitable format for the opening Event, producing a new version of the Coopetition game. This will be exhibited and explained in the Central laboratory of the Interdisciplinary Laboratory during the opening Event. This attracts a number of visitors, who learn about the game.

S9 Frank and Gerd

June 20, 2013 – Following the opening, various Persons are still tied, to varying degrees, with the Topic of gamification, games and Coopetition. One of the them is Frank, for whom the Topic has always been of particular interest. He is looking for an opportunity to return to it; hence for a Source that might be created. He is also interested in the Topic of product development. This interest is shared by Gerd. Gerd is also interested in the Topics of software development and big data. Since Frank and Gerd get on well together, both look for a possible Task which they could take on together and that would ideally reflect the Topics which appeal to them.

S10 The Humboldt Innovation Competition

June 27, 2013 – One week later, a competition called Humboldt Innovation is launched. The general Topic is business foundation. The challenge is to present a business model in a 'pitch' presentation. It will be judged by a jury composed of successful business founders. The competition's organizer, Hans is looking for Persons who would like to take part. There is still room for a few participants. A chance meeting in a stairway at the Interdisciplinary Laboratory with Gerd results in him talking about it.

S11 The Planet Play Pitch

July 4, 2013 – Shortly after the discussion with Hans, Frank and Gerd again come across the Humboldt Innovation Competition in the Excellence Cluster newsletter, CZ#. Frank, for whom the Topic is rather more important than it is for Gerd, asks him whether they should take part in the competition. Both are interested in product development and are in any case looking for a shared task. Gerd agrees to the idea. Only when the competition deadline approaches do both address the Task of a 'pitch' presentation. Their idea comes from the engagement with gamification and from their discussions. Their proposal comes together as a pitch entitled Planet Play, which goes very well; Frank and Gerd win a prize of 300 €. This positive encouragement means that the Topic becomes more important to both of them. And it makes a stronger bond between them. For both, it is clear that they would like to look for new shared task.

S12 Networking

19.08.2013 – After the reinforcement of the Topic gamification , there is once again a lull. Frank networks with various Persons on subjects other than the Topic: with Claudio he is involved in the project »Experiment & Observation«. With Ingo he shares an interest in cooking. With Gerd there is a continued tie, since their successful pitch, in the form of the new Topic of business foundation. Coopetition is also still advancing, which maintains the tie to Eckehard, who had a significant part in the drafting and implementation. Frank would like to consolidate the Topic and create more than just the one Source like the pitch; he would like to instigate a regular Event. How this is going to happen is as yet unclear. But he has a good network of Persons. The stronger tie to the Topic of gamification means that Frank still mentions it in all kinds of contexts and forges ties to it when talking to people. This increases not only his tie to the Topic but also the visibility of the Topic.

S13 Bridging Actor

September 13, 2013 – The gamification Topic remains important to others besides Frank. Gerd is now interested in it as a result of the numerous, reinforced ties that have been created. In Braunschweig, where he studied, he meets a friend, Jens, whom he has not seen for a long time. Because the Topic of gamification preoccupies him, he tells Jens about it. Quite spontaneously Jens calls on his colleague Knud, who once told him about the Topic – though not in great detail. Knud is interested in gamification in the area of simulation exercises for political theories and is doing a PhD on the subject. He has developed games since he was a child. At this moment, he is actively looking for skills in the field of software development, in order to transfer his simulation exercise to a digital platform.

S14 Gamification Meets Software Development

13.09.2913 – Gerd and Knud quickly find common ground in the subject of gamification. Because Knud is seeking access to Software development, he brings up the subject. Gerd is also interested; he has himself programmed computing software for many years. They converse on the Topics in general and thus build a relationship, which is maintained by virtue of their shared interests. Moreover, Knud draws an advantage from the fact that, as hoped, he has found someone who is skilled in the software development area.

S15 Application for bologna.lab

October 29, 2013 – Beside his research activities, Frank would also like to teach. He applies for a seminar taking place as part of bologna.lab at HU Berlin. For this, he needs a suitable seminar topic. This requirement is quickly met, since his tie to the Topic of gamification has already solidified to the extent that a further opportunity to expand on it presents itself. He considers whether the seminar will allow him to learn even more about theory and practice.

S16 New Directions

December 4, 2013 – The fact that Frank is promoting the gamification Topic has much to do with his tie capacity opening up. The tie to his own base project »Experiment & Observation« has weakened and the project does not in itself form any ties with his Topic of gamification. Identification dwindles and Frank seeks both a new Organization and a new Task that is better suited to his own cluster.

S17 Establishment of the Gamelab

January 31, 2014 – After six months, Frank calls a meeting on the Topic of games. He asks Persons, who are already part of his network whether they would like to participate. Some agree, and come to the meeting. Knud participates via Skype. Not everyone is equally familiar with the Topic of gamification. For this reason, the group puts on a brainstorming session to determine what common goals they might set and who should pursue which interests. From this arises the still somewhat uncertain goal definition 1, with which all are agreed. A concrete program still has to emerge. The group decides nonetheless to have regular meetings under the moniker of Gamelab.

S18 Gamelab Goal Definitions

March 6, 2014 – At the next meeting, four weeks later, not everyone attends. Ingo and Claudio evidently did not have enough shared interest in this project. Finally, there are still plenty of opportunities and offers but only limited time. And in a favorable turn, Mathias and Norbert have joined the project. They have yet more approaches, and using the collaboration tool Etherpad are together able to add to the goal definition. This has now become slightly more specific, also owing to the fact that participants with less distinct ideas have dropped out. More and more text is being written. Now, Gamelab has its own web domain. There is nothing on it yet, but its existence helps the group feel more stable. The group holds regular meetings once more, although sometimes without the full complement, but people come back.

S19 Gaming Software Development as a New Task

31.03.2014 – With regard to the Gamelab, Gerd believes that Knud with his skills in simulation games development, would make a great member of Gamelab He extends an invitation, which Knud accepts gladly. Knud comes to Berlin. From the software development Topic and the reworking of the shared goal definition, the Task of game software development begins to emerge. Gamelab sets itself the goal of implementing Knud's simulation game in a digital version and using this to consolidate multiple questions on gaming and data gathering through games. Coincidentally, Gerd's interest in the Topic of big data is nourished. The result is that he takes on the task of game software development. The cluster is now a closer network and has therefore become more stable.

S20 Seminar on Gamification

April 14, 2014 - Frank applies for the summer term 2014 staging of a seminar on the Topic of gamification and receives approval. The seminar attracts many participants. He has evidently stumbled upon a Topic that interests many students. This has all happened without his commitment to the field receiving official support from the Interdisciplinary Laboratory, at least thus far.

S21 The Search for Persons and Tasks

May 26, 2014 - Gamelab has at its recurring meetings built up its own skill set in the area of gamification through reading and theory. By now, it is also very well versed in the Methods of game design. But its members still want to develop and are seeking Persons, with the ability to help them grow further. They are also looking for a Task that would bring aspects of gaming as cultural technique more strongly to the fore.

S22 The WiMi 'Transversality' Workshop

June 18, 2014 – Then a workshop takes place involving academic employees, the WiMi-Workshop. It involves all members. A large number know each other, but not all. Only a few know what certain individuals do exactly. Within the framework of the workshop, a Task is nonetheless set suggesting the attendees seek cooperation projects – right there and then. Responding to this Task, Olga and Frank, who happen to be standing next to each other, enter into conversation.

S23 A New Actor

June 18, 2014 – Olga is also a member of the academic staff in the Interdisciplinary Laboratory. As a medical scientist, she is working on a project entitled »Health and Gestaltung« and in particular on the user experience of hospital patients and with regard to hospital processes in general. Her search is for Methods, and her aim is to improve them. She also seeks Persons, interested in helping her implement improvements. She has in mind to submit an additional application for support, to meet her needs for Money and Time. She has not come across Gamelab, nor does she have an immediate association with the Topic of games.

S24 User Experience as a New Topic

June 18, 2014 - The possibility that user experience in hospitals might be interesting in connection with Gamelab is something that has not occurred to Frank. Nor has Olga considered gamification as a resource for skills and solutions in connection with her question. During the discussion, parallels slowly begin to arise – though they are still not clear ones. After a while, they both are sure that the Topics overlap to a considerable extent, strange though this sounded at first. Had they not been set the Task of actively seeking a cooperation project, it is unlikely they would have found this out.

S25 The Hospital Game as New Task

June 23, 2014 – At the next seminar of the Gamelab, Olga is among the attendees. She gives an outline of her ideas and the goal definition is subsequently adjusted. It is decided that a concept for improving user experience in hospitals through gamification in the form of a hospital game should be drafted. Olga has some promising ideas for ways in which she can apply for Money from the medical sector to subsidize this project. These Monies could also provide a financial basis for Gamelab The latter's members are enthusiastic – including Knud, who participates mostly through Skype. He too is increasingly encouraged in his work and hopes that Gamelab will be adopted - although this takes him in a host of other, quite different, directions beyond his own simulation game area. In the meantime, the digital version of the simulation game is available and is now being extended to include a multi-player variant that automatically collects data. The hospital game has undergone a first brainstorming session and is poised to be issued in a first draft.

S26 A Slack Period

August 2, 2014 – After the broadening of Gamelab goals, we enter into a slack period. No specific Tasks have been defined. Gamelab's organizational format has no fixed structures as yet; rather it is at the stage of a ‘declaration of intent’. Moreover, in the following months everyone has a lot to do and very little Time. The result is that Gamelab seems to participants to be less urgent, and ties start to slacken. A feeling spreads that the initiative could come to nothing. Attendance at meetings falls and preparation for meetings is less intensive.

S27 LunchTalk ""

December 9, 2014 – Gamelab decides to put on a LunchTalk at which work and ideas up to the present will be presented. Directly after this, there will be a Gamelab week with workshops and a poster presentation. This specific Event, with a large public, gives rise to the specific Task of preparing the presentation, the workshops and the poster. As the Event approaches, engagement increases once more. Everyone prepares presentation material on Topics that are most close to their hearts. In presenting the Topic of games in general, bridges are built to the Topics of image and the science and humanities, which are of great interest to audiences at the Interdisciplinary Laboratory. Since Claudio is unable to attend the LunchTalk, he prepares a video clip. Even if the workshop is poorly attended – unlike the LunchTalk – the initiative raises the profile of Gamelab in the Interdisciplinary Laboratory to a significant degree.

S28 Gamelab Application

March 9, 2015 – The LunchTalk has had the effect of reinforcing and unifying Gamelab Immediately after the LunchTalk, a joint application is prepared for Money for associated projects. Funding is sought for a symposium, the further development of Decide & Survive, Singleton and the development of a concept for games-related communication methods for the Excellence Cluster exhibition +ultra (September 30, 2016 – January 8, 2017, Martin-Gropius-Bau). The application comes at a timely moment and is based on the visibility attained so far. The cluster seeks new innovative Topics and welcomes publications as well as Events. Subsequently, all the funds applied for, totaling EUR 36,600 are granted. This is a validation of the Gamelab Organization and affirms the ties between it and all participants.


▶ Content

T1 Complex Situations

The model presented here grew from the analysis of 27 situations in the interdisciplinary context; however, it can also be applied in other contexts. The above study demonstrates that interdisciplinary work procedures can be usefully rendered through this cluster model. It becomes evident in particular that heterogeneous actors and tie types form complex cluster , which can no longer be reduced to universal schemata.

For instance, the Place in which a planning discussion happens is as key to its result as the participating Persons. A Source can tie one Topic with another. A Topic can necessitate or exclude a Method. A Task can require an expensive Tool that may be financed by an Organization, and this investment can in turn redefine the Tasks of the Organization. The occurrence of an Event at a particular Time enables or prevents the presence of Persons who could initiate partnerships there. A further function of actors in general is their ability to tie other actors together that would not have established ties without this bridging activity. Actors who perform this function are termed bridging actors, and they perform a vital function, since a lack of bridging actors amongst Persons may cause entire projects to fail. The use of the same Tool can tie Persons to each other, which has the effect of mutually increasing familiarity with each other's Topics, until a personal interest develops on the respective sides. The visibility of a tie between Place and Person in the meaning of a personal workplace may obstruct the use of the room by other Persons. On the other hand, a personal workplace generally shows traces in the form of notes, books, or posters and is thus an indication of the occupant's Topic. Other Persons may thereby form an interest in that Topic, even in the absence of the Person. The invisibility of a tie between Person and Topic is a handicap to the instigation of cooperation. A strong tie that has been built up over a long time between Organization and Topic, for instance, can block a promising but still new, and therefore weak, tie. The negative tie of a Person to another Person can extend further to actors who are tied to one of the Persons. If tie capacity is exceeded, non-completion of Tasks may result.

T2 Beyond the Discipline

These examples, and others from the study, show that interdisciplinary collaboration consists of a multitude of different situations which, through a specific cluster of actors, are characterized by concrete, significant individual actors and their particular ties. This is a necessary degree of detail and the reason why interdisciplinary collaboration cannot be described with the necessary precision simply by naming the disciplines involved. The denotation of disciplines such as biology, physics, cultural science, architecture or informatics involve such large and complex clusters of actors that, in the end, it does not express a meaning sophisticated enough for the analysis, modelling and Gestaltung of interdisciplinary collaboration.

Every discipline comprises various Topics divided into superordinate and subordinate Topics; each discipline uses multiple Methods – some specific to the discipline, others common to other disciplines. Most have formed specific Organizations such as institutes or foundations whose names are eponymous with the discipline in question. Such Organizations provide Places, organize Events and a budget and employ Persons who may have studied this discipline previously. Persons, in turn, receive and produce discipline-specific Sources, use or manufacture specific Tools, perform Tasks such as teaching or research in a prescribed Time and in the allocated Places and, last but not least, receive Monies for their work. And the spectrum of Topics and Methods in every single one of these disciplines is so broad that even within the respective subject, communication can become problematic. The communication between a geneticist and a morphologist can be more difficult than between a morphologist and an architect.

So it is no surprise that the configuration of an interdisciplinary team that operates purely with the concept of disciplines leaves out important actors. For this reason, the ID+Model developed here deliberately dispenses with the integration of disciplines as individual actors. Instead, it focuses on the multiplicity of actors, which is essential to the success of interdisciplinary endeavor. The fact that disciplines are not accorded actor status in the ID+Model does not mean that they no longer have an entitlement in the overall academic arena. Rather, the ID+Model enables the comparison of interdisciplinary and disciplinary collaboration and their dynamic interrelation. As a result, it is possible to delve more precisely into the differences and commonalities between the two modes of academic research with respect to actor classes, actors, ties, structures and processes. Where processes are concerned, one might for instance describe interdisciplinary collaboration as a constant oscillation between coupling and decoupling. In each new situation within interdisciplinary collaboration, actors couple themselves to new clusters of actors. The precondition for this is that first, and on repeated occasions, individual actors must decouple themselves entirely from disciplinary actor ties and clusters. Only then, free of habituated disciplinary clusters, can they constitute a medium for new interdisciplinary actor clusters. Through their tying and integration in these new interdisciplinary actor clusters, actors themselves undergo transformation. Meanings, functions and evaluations shift. Such transformation occurs only in the face of disciplinary difference. This is in effect a kind of motivation for seeking new, surprising ties – the particularity of interdisciplinary collaboration is the spread of content. Interdisciplinarity is reliant on the existence of strong disciplines and cannot be seen as their replacement or possible successor. Conversely, interdisciplinarity leads to the further strengthening of disciplines. On the one hand, disciplines with actors who were transformed in interdisciplinary clusters gain new actors for their specific disciplinary contexts – disciplines thus expand their spectrum of actors. On the other hand, the process of decoupling is an act of disciplinary self-reflection: the discipline recognizes its own actors and their historicity and constructedness. This process is no trivial accomplishment: it is the ties to actor clusters that are no longer questioned that lead to a standstill in disciplinary contexts.

T3 Self-Organization

Interdisciplinary research is not a goal in itself, but a strategy that deploys the knowledge of various disciplines not simply in an additive way, as in multi-disciplinary collaboration, but in a way that synthesizes elements into a new approach. But how should this collaboration be organized? Can disciplinary framework conditions be sufficient for interdisciplinary work? This is questionable, when one considers the diversity of research practices in the various disciplines. Since every type of research requires framework conditions and organizational structures, the strategy of the Interdisciplinary Laboratory has been formulated so as to enable the maximum support for self-organizing processes within a minimal structure. If no definite knowledge obtains of the findings that can be generated from a research project, or how the process should be organized, the strategy must be to adopt a self-organizing approach, and to be ready to be surprised.

In many cases, interdisciplinary initiatives have organizational features. A typical type of interdisciplinary Organization is a project, a department or indeed an entire institution. Often these organizational formats are predetermined; i.e., they are planned and applied as interdisciplinary endeavors. Examples of such predetermined organizational forms are the Interdisciplinary Laboratory base projects, which were conceived as such from the outset and to which further actors such as Topics, Tasks, Persons, Sources and Monies were allocated. These predetermined clusters contain ties that were externally arranged and that cannot easily be changed by participating actors. Yet, in the course of implementing this type of predetermined organizational format, actors become substantiated and thus import their own clusters. The crucial question is to what extent these own clusters then form a common cluster within the Organization; in answering this, one can decide whether a representative of a particular discipline should participate in a project. Since the discipline cannot however characterize the chosen Person completely, other actors must come into play alongside him or her. Earlier projects, current interests, existing cooperative projects and other Tasks co-determine the project from this point onwards. The same happens with the predetermined project Topic, if it is only in the concretization that close ties to other Topics emerge, which in turn bring in important Sources. Or perhaps the sheer monetary value of a Tool purchased at the start of a project determines the project methods, even though others might have been more suitable. These examples show that the cluster of actors in a project cannot be unambiguously predicted.

The situations examined in the study are clusters of actors that did not arise from predetermined organizational formats, but that developed in a self-organizing way. For this reason, the focus is on the establishment of ties that develop or dissolve without external conditioning. These ties develop in a different and, in a certain sense, free way. Weak ties may be constructed as a kind of experiment and can just as easily be de-constructed. Various clusters can thereby test their compatibility without obligation. Where certain clusters have a positive reciprocal effect on each other, strong ties can be formed and these prove more resilient and more productive than would otherwise be foreseeable at the planning stage. Successful interdisciplinarity depends on relatively loose ties in heterogeneous clusters in the orientation phase. This enables a relaxed approach to adopting tie options and playing around or testing them without any binding obligation or, necessarily, their incorporation in a structure. A second stabilization phase can then be carried out and ties that prove useful can be consolidated and strengthened, in order to achieve structural stability.

T4 Identification and Communication

A significant problem in undetermined interdisciplinary projects is the visibility of potential ties. The fact that various actors at first possess no ties, or only weak ones to each other means that potential ties to still other actors are as yet invisible. Tie intensity may also have a strengthening effect on the visibility of the tie: the stronger the tie between actors, the more visible it is. The initial weakness of ties makes identification of actors difficult that may exist in various clusters and that could perform a bridging function. The result is that in practice, many interdisciplinary ties are the result of chance (S10, S13, S22). Since only those potential ties that are discovered can be realized, their suitability for realization as actual ties cannot be ascertained except by chance. Actors, with strong communication capacities or that increase the visibility of their potential ties have the advantage here: an Organization whose public relations department is well developed can more easily find suitable campaigners. A Person willing to make contact with others has a greater choice of cooperation opportunities. A Place with a self-explanatory name is better suited to finding actors than a Place with an indifferent name. Thus, it is above all the framework conditions of visibility that effect the undetermined construction of interdisciplinary cooperation. Where ties and actors are made visible, more suitable ties can be formed.

Visibility can be attained through intermediaries who communicate potential ties in the direction of the cluster, through the actors themselves increasing visibility, or through the creation of information nodes and anything that encourages communication. However, the problem remains that communication always represents an expense or effort, and therefore cannot be progressed limitlessly.

The ID+Model presented here can contribute actively through its explicit modelling of the cluster, thus providing not only swift and clear visibility, but also the ability to systematically analyze the cluster, down to the level of bridging actors

T5 Curiosity and Irritation

Alongside potential ties that manifest clearly or that present themselves (e.g., needs or interests), there are ties whose compatibility with a cluster of actors is still fairly hazy, since at the particular point in time it is not possible to rule out replication or conflict. There are two such types of hazy potential ties: curiosity and irritation. They can be found in the potential tying of two specific actors, and always in more than one of the tied actors. In both cases, what is happening is an exploration by actors external to the cluster, as well as an evaluation of connectivity, which have either a positive or negative outcome. Actors can in principle act in either a curious or irritated manner with regard to the tie; where either state exists however, it is definitely a question of a potential tie.

Curiosity is an element of open, outward-looking potential ties. It occurs in situations in which actors aim to extend a cluster sporadically, rather than on an ongoing basis. Non-continual expansion takes place with regard to the integration of actors who are not tied to the existing cluster either directly or via bridging actors, and can thus be termed external. The result is that it is not clear which ties could be formed, or at what parts of the cluster. Curiosity occurs in interdisciplinary collaboration in situations where information is lacking; for instance where an actor faces another actor without an immediately clear tying opportunity, but with a sense or impression that a function or usage resides in that actor, which would strengthen the structure. Such impressions create potential ties with positive connotations to various actors within the cluster. Subsequently, these potential ties are validated, i.e. monitored for their stability. The actor who is the object of the curiosity will be assessed more closely and ties will be tested. The more potential ties that can be established to the actor's cluster, the stronger are deemed the opportunities for integration in the cluster. The likelihood that these potential ties can later be realized increases.

Potential ties have little effect on the tie capacity of actors. Naturally, they must first be identified or invented by an actor, and reassessed frequently in order to be confirmed or rejected. This requires Time, of course, which affects tie capacity, albeit to a far lesser extent than when they are indeed confirmed. An interesting fact is that curiosity incurs comparatively little Time expenditure for actors, as long as they are clear about the difference between potential and actual ties and their weighting. A problematic effect occurs only if this difference is not clearly made and excessive stress is then placed on the tie capacity of the actors involved. Thus, actors use curiosity to a greater or lesser degree as a strategy to develop a cluster, sometimes actively changing the strategy. All of this activity, in accordance with the actor model, relates to non-human actors, too. A source would for instance be a 'curious' one if it pointed to another potentially interesting source, without there having been a comprehensive study of that source; the danger would then exist of adopting a tie on false premises. Of course the reference in the source and thus the curiosity can be traced to the author of the source, i.e., to a human actor, but the reference and thus the curiosity is an integral part of the Source and can become operational even without the actor. The reference within the Source then becomes the reference of the Source. In this way, we can talk about the curiosity of non-human actors – even if this is in some cases incorporated differently: a curious knife, for instance, would be characterized by a wide scope of application – a knife is more curious than a corkscrew.

Irritation is the second type of hazy potential tie. In contrast to curiosity, irritation is neither open nor outward-looking, but closed and reactive. Irritation may arise if an actor appears that had no relation to another actor, but actively sets up a relation. Such an externally created tie represents a disturbance in the actor's cluster and has the potential to destabilize its structure. The actor is forced to defend the stability of the cluster and must therefore react to the irritation. His or her reaction in itself creates a tie that may be either positive (integrating) or negative (defensive).

It is possible for a potential tie to be initiated out of curiosity, but for this to prove to be an unwanted irritation during the course of exploration. Conversely, an irritation may be met with curiosity and lead to an exploration of the surroundings of the irritating actor; this would actively develop the cluster in this direction.

The result of both curiosity and irritation may be either the expansion, or clearer delimitation of the cluster. In both cases, the cluster stabilizes its relation to a context, its position within the context and, by analogy, its reactiveness to future impulses from actors external to the cluster.

Generally, one can suppose that actors that demonstrate or have developed a high degree of curiosity-potential ties, or that are exposed to a relatively large number of irritations, are better placed to ensure the stability of their cluster in relation to changing contexts. They remain operational where many changes occur. At the same time, too many curiosity-potential ties pose the risk that tie capacity will be over-stretched with an ensuing paralysis, which would lead to an interested standstill. Too many irritations can on the other hand destabilize the cluster, in the event it is no longer able to integrate all actors and does not demonstrate a sufficient stability of its own. From this, we can assume that the number of curiosity-potential ties grows in a developed and stable cluster, but is less marked in a less stable cluster. The same is true of irritations, which affect stable clusters in an aggrandizing way and less stable clusters in a threatening way.

In order to be able to use curiosity and irritation as expansion strategies in a targeted way, it is important to analyze the clusters of the actors involved. The degree of curiosity depends on the internal stability of the individual cluster; the degree of irritation on the scope of overlapping. Interdisciplinary projects, if they are to succeed, must by nature be more dependent on curiosity and exposed to more frequent irritations. As so often, it is hard to find and induce the right degree of both attributes. Where the right balance is found, the end effect can be a markedly enhanced overall stability.