Information and access to it is key for learning and development in all types of human interactions:

All social actors invest in information and systems to store or transform it.

Via the Internet and the World wide web a growing range of information systems (both repositories and service systems) can be consulted and used globally.

These systems meet the need for information of people and organisations in all trades. For their planning, which becomes increasingly collaborative, social actors need high-quality reference, mapping, design, transformation and dialogue instruments to create, share and analyse content.

Content actants are involved in the operations and mechanisms that actors [2] use to plan and perform their roles in interactions [3].

Social actors interact with content or information actants in myriad situations. The description of the actants helps understanding the interactions [1].


The focus is on content actants for use by members of the global partnership for sustainable development.

Actants may have a current realization (AS-IS), and a "desirable" realization (TO-BE).

In the case that an actant is implemented in a manner that can be improved significantly (for instance, by using content commons), some improvement options are indicated in the TO-BE section of a page.

The description of an actant typically includes data elements identifying and describing various entities and the interactions in which they are involved.

Types of actants

In this chapter of the Ens Dictionary the focus is on these types of actants:

  • For storage and retrieval: Repository
  • For transformation: Service (actant)
  • For communication between actors and systems: Token
  • For making activity and organisation data comparable across a social network: Codelist
  • A content actant that is used as a guide for creating content objects: Template

Best Practice Sharing and Benchmarking

Especially for actants that are under the control of international organizations, national governments and local governments, it is possible to compare among peers actant quality and performance, rank the actants, and provide links to best practices for the actant.

Such information may be included for actants of the same kind.

Coping with Actant Proliferation

Actant proliferation is more problematic for content actants then for other actants. As collections of actants violate the Mutually Exclusive and Collectively Exhaustive (MECE) principle1.

On a MECE violation page the violation is explained, as well as its consequences, and what to do about it.

Maintenance of this list

Actant descriptions are included as initiatives involving them and their social contexts (which actors are involved? what agreements do already exist among these actors?) are codified as content commons.

As the Actant Dictionary service will be adopted by a growing user community, it will be important to enact formal maintenance procedures and comply to certain principles [4].


In its current version, the Actant section is offered as a prototype. The purpose is to illustrate the benefits of systematized content commons [5], without being exhaustive.

The included actants play a role in the Global Partnership for Sustainable Development.

2. For an overview of actors, see the Actor Atlas.
3. For an overview of interactions, see the Interaction Dictionary.