Loose Couplers as an Information Design Strategy

June 2007
Dr. Robert W. Miller, The MITRE Corporation
Daniel G. Winkowski, The MITRE Corporation
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Net-Centric operations are predicated upon loose coupling among participants. Existing approaches to loose coupling have focused on the information and network interfaces, not on information design methodology. Cursor on Target has been described as a loose coupler that provides a strategy to exchange a minimal amount of structured, high impact information in a variety of use cases among battlefield participants. In this paper we provide an in-depth analysis of the loose coupler concept. We define a loose coupler as an information object design that optimizes data utilization (production and consumption) among a community of independent participants while globally minimizing costs (development and employment). Local efficiencies of point-to-point information design yield to the greater global efficiencies of the information environment in which a loose coupler operates. We investigate data sharing usage patterns and infospace environments within and across communities of interest and use these to identify characteristics of loose coupler design. We provide examples of loose couplers in both commercial and military environments. A loose coupler design methodology is discussed and we suggest opportunities for further research in this area.

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