Tuesday, July 06, 2010

It is NOT all about the devices and the Networks!

It's actually about connecting the right people, groups, and enterprises to the appropriate data, informs, knogs and services! It's ages since I've seen or heard those words. For the life of me I cannot remember who wrote them. It wouldn't surprise me to find that it was something to do with Index, and the folks surrounding Michael Hammer. But Google has let me down, I only get stuff about a cycling or a Spanish radio station! Back then we had the idea of knowledge management; the hierarchy of data, informs and knogs were clear (informs are units of information, where-as knogs are units of knowledge, often described as all the elements needed to make a fundamental decision), services were still hazy back then too! The problem was that we hadn't really figured out that the devices and networks were crucial foundation pieces. Knowledge Management on a "green screen" in a data center didn't really hack it. However, now that we have the devices and the networks largely in place, that should allow us to start thinking again about moving our application development thinking from the application or silo mode of IT to the knog and service mode. So, why do we seem to be stuck in the old frame. Many moons ago I was introduced to a concept called "soup". Does anyone remember the Apple Newton? It was trying to be a ubiquitous device that could connect people to knogs. It failed for a number of reasons, not least the jokey battery life, and its inappropriate focus on handwriting recognition, heck!, I can't even read my own handwriting! What it DID have was this concept of a "soup" that applications and services could dip into, create and manipulate. At least, that's what I hoped it was, until I watched how the app developers turned the knogs back into their own, proprietary like, stagnant ponds of stunted and partially formed knogs. Of course it's easier to write apps when only your app needs to understand its own data. The very idea of every app being able to, or needing to understand all data is clearly ludicrous, but surely every app should understand data relevant to all apps like it, or similar. Why do developers insist on storing data that only their apps can understand. Oh, wait a minute you don't mean that they do it for app or vendor lock in purposes do you...Or is there another reason?? I guess they just don't understand the power of the Ocean! For the "Ocean" is a new mega collection of Soups, and is far more powerful, and for that matter far more primeval! Especially as this new huge Ocean is growing a set of Informs that are increasingly described by RDFa, that can be accessed by these huge new and ever expanding Social Groups that could be described by FoaF. I don't have Martin Birbecks dream of having ever more people writing apps, I just want the ones that do, to write apps that understand the Ocean of Informs and can connect to the ever expannding Social Groups. (Assuming of course we don't all lock ourselves into FaceBook.) There are solutions that are starting to be populated in this emerging Semantic Layer by knogs described in RDFa and People described by FoAF. (Perhaps Diaspora will show the way?)

Now all we have to do is help folks make the shift.... Doh!!! I just realised that quite apart from the new application development mind set we need to engender, we can't yet make the shift, as there IS still another layer needed above the Devices & Networks, and above the Semantic Layer, before we can start connecting the People & Knogs. A ubiquitous Entitlement Layer, for it is a MUST, as that would be the bit that made the initial statement possible. As it did not read connecting ANY people, groups, and enterprises to ANY data, informs knogs and services!

This reminds me of a Vison I once helped write:

Extend Human Capability and
Promote Global Collaboration by
Providing Continual Natural Access to
People and Knowledge

It should have read:

Extend Human Capability and
Promote Global Collaboration by
Providing Continual Natural Access by the right
People to the appropriate Knowledge

But I was younger back then, and a lot less wise....

.. but I am still not yet wise enough to wave a magic wand and have ubiquitous autonomous knogs in play today!

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