One of my blogging collegues tipped me with a few (philosophical?) but very interesting links about Mission Oriented Architecture and multi-dimensional (space-time) thinking (thanks Mark!). The articles inspired me to visualize the space-time thinking with the lifecycle of an apple and connect that example to semantic interoperability.
Many objects in life have a lifecycle. For example an apple starts as blossom, grows on the tree until it is harvested, bitten from and sometimes even left to rot and becoming a new home for worms. During it’s lifecycle the apple undergoes all kinds of transformations and you might say it’s definition changes ‘on the fly’. Because the context changes, the definition of the previous context isn’t interesting anymore. It was interesting only in it’s previous context.
Now we come to the point of semantics and interoperability, a theme often giving integrators a lot of headaches. If we try to integrate things over their total lifecycle, we often try to make agreements on definitions. By choosing definitions (or maybe even worse: standards), we in fact disregard the object’s lifecycle context which is so important. We ignore the time part of the space-time dimension. Making it difficult to allow adaptivity. Making it difficult to integrate more real-time. Because we architect the integration using static assumptions instead of architecting the integration using dynamic (adaptive) techniques. These dynamic, adapative techniques can be used if we wanted to, because the technologies basically already exist. Especiallly on social media networks you can already see how easy it can be to support some form of semantic interoperability.
Take for example how certain social networks can work. Let’s say person 1 tags a picture (example see below) onto it’s pinboard (a collection of pins) called ‘Stones‘ and calls the picture ‘woman stones‘. Person 2 sees this picture, likes it and copies it to it’s own board called ‘Beautiful Optical Illusions‘ and changes the context by repinning it to ‘Let’s Face it‘. The 3rd person sees this and get’s inspired to create a new pinboard named ‘Faces‘. And repins the object by tagging it with the text ‘Stone face‘. This can theoretically go on for ever and ever. And as you can see, the original object isn’t really changed, only the context. The space-time dimension is taken into account. This architecture could also be applied for semantic interoperability. Basis principles are: allow redundancies in the objects themselves (they get copied), add a new context each time a transformation (f.e. copy) happens and leave the context relations intact (the space-time dimensions).
These techniques might be a new cornerstone under a more real-time oriented society. We could try to adopt these new technologies, experiment with them and gradually say goodbye to old technologies. But who is willing to start such a major transformation, from batch-oriented, fully predictable transactions to real-time oriented, less predictable transactions? Happy transaction transformation hunting!