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Archive for the ‘Information Development’ Category

by: John McClure
23  Dec  2013

Semantic Notations

In a previous entry about the Worldwide Web Consortium (W3C)’s RDF PROVenance Ontology, I mentioned that it includes a notation aimed at human consumption — wow, I thought, that’s a completely new architectural thrust by the W3C. Until now the W3C has published only notations aimed at computer consumption. Now it is going to be promoting a “notation aimed at human consumption”! So here’s examples of what’s being proposed.
----------------------------------------------------
[1] entity(e1)
[2] activity(a2, 2011-11-16T16:00:00, 2011-11-16T16:00:01)
[3] wasDerivedFrom(e2, e1, a, g2, u1)
----------------------------------------------------

[1] declares that an entity named “e1″ exists. This could have been “book(e1)” presumably, so any subclass of prov:Entity can be referenced instead. Note: The prov:entity property and the prov:Entity class are top concepts in the PROV ontology.
[2] should be read as “activity a2, which occurred between 2011-11-16T16:00:00 and 2011-11-16T16:00:01″. An ‘activity’ is a sub-property of prov:influence, as an ‘Activity’ is a sub-class of prov:Influence, both top concepts in the PROV ontology.
[3] additional details are shown for a “wasDerivedFrom” event (a sub-property of prov:wasInfluencedBy, a top concept of the PROV ontology); to wit, that activity a, the generation g2, and the usage u1, resources are eacb related to the “wasDerivedFrom” relation.
—————————————————-

The W3 syntax above is a giant step towards establishing standard mechanisms for semantic notations. I’m sure though this approach doesn’t yet qualify as an efficient user-level syntax for semantic notation however. First, I’d note that the vocabulary of properties essentially mirrors the vocabulary of classes — from a KISS view this ontology design pattern imposes a useless burden on a user, to learn two vocabularies of similar and hierarchical names, one for classes and one for properties. Secondly camel-case conventions are surely not amenable to most users (really, who wants to promote poor spelling?). Thirdly attribute values are not labelled classically (”type:name”) — treating resource names opaquely wastes an obvious opportunity for clarifications and discoveries of subjects’ own patterns of information as well as incidental annotations not made elsewhere. Finally a small point, is that commas are not infrequently found in names of resources causing problems in this context.

Another approach is to move around the strings in the notations above, to achieve a more natural reading to average English speakers. Using a consistent framework of verbs and prepositions for properties named verb:preposition, an approach introduced in an earlier entry, yields an intuitively more interesting syntax with possibilities for future expansion.
----------------------------------------------------
[1] has:this(Entity:e1)
[2] has:this(Activity:a2; Timestamp:2011-11-16T16:00:00; Timestamp:2011-11-16T16:00:01)
[3] was:from(Source:e2; Event:e1; Activity:a; Generation:g2; Usage:u1)
[4] was:from(Source:e1; Source:e2; Source:e3)
----------------------------------------------------

[1] declares that an annotation for a specific page (a subject) has a certain entity named e1, which may or may not exist (that is, be de-referenceable). e1 is qualified as of type “Entity”.
[2] By convention the first value in a set of values provided to a “property function” is the target of the namespaced relation “has:this” with the subject resource being the resource which is being semantically annotated. Each attribute value associated with the relation is qualified by the type of value that it is.
[3] The property wasDerivedFrom is here a relation with a target resource that is to be interpreted as a “Source” kind-of-thing, i.e., “role”. This relation shows four related (perhaps influential) resources.
[4] This is a list of attribute values acceptable in this notation, overloading the ‘was:from’ predicate function for a less tiresome syntax.
—————————————————-

The chief advantages of this approach to semantic notations in comparison with the current W3C recommendation is first, that it eliminates the need for dual (dueling) hierarchies, by its adoption of a fixed number of prepositional properties. Second it is in a lexical sense formally more complete yet ripe with opportunities for improved semantic markup, in part by its requirement to type strings. Lastly it is intuitively clearer to an average user, perhaps leading to a more conducive process for semantic annotations.

Category: Data Quality, Enterprise Content Management, Enterprise Data Management, Information Development, Information Governance, Information Management, Information Strategy, Semantic Web, Sustainable Development
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by: Alandduncan
22  Dec  2013

The Twelve (Data) Days of Christmas

For my first blog post on MIKE2, and in the spirit of the season, here’s a light-hearted take on some of the challenges you might be facing if you’re dealing with increased volumes of data in the run up to Christmas…

On the first day of Christmas, my true love sent to me a ragged hierarchy.

On the second day of Christmas, my true love sent to me two empty files and a ragged hierarchy.

On the third day of Christmas, my true love sent to me three null values, two missing files and a ragged hierarchy.

On the fourth day of Christmas, my true love sent to me four audit logs, three null values, two missing files and a ragged hierarchy.

On the fifth day of Christmas, my true love sent to me five golden records! Four audit logs, three null values, two missing files and a ragged hierarchy.

On the sixth day of Christmas, my true love sent to me six late arrivals, five golden records! Four audit logs, three null values, two missing files and a ragged hierarchy.

On the seventh day of Christmas, my true love sent to me seven free-text columns, six late arrivals, five golden records! Four audit logs, three null values, two missing files and a ragged hierarchy.

On the eighth day of Christmas, my true love sent to me eight mis-spelled surnames, seven free-text columns, six late arrivals, five golden records! Four audit logs, three null values, two missing files and a ragged hierarchy.

On the ninth day of Christmas, my true love sent to me nine duplications, eight mis-spelled surnames, seven free-text columns, six late arrivals, five golden records! Four audit logs, three null values, two missing files and a ragged hierarchy.

On the tenth day of Christmas, my true love sent to me ten coding errors, nine duplications, eight mis-spelled surnames, seven free-text columns, six late arrivals, five golden records! Four audit logs, three null values, two missing files and a ragged hierarchy.

On the eleventh day of Christmas, my true love sent to me eleven double meanings, ten coding errors, nine duplications, eight mis-spelled surnames, seven free-text columns, six late arrivals, five golden records! Four audit logs, three null values, two missing files and a ragged hierarchy.

On the twelfth day of Christmas, my true love sent to me twelve domain outliers, eleven double meanings, ten coding errors, nine duplications, eight mis-spelled surnames, seven free-text columns, six late arrivals, five golden records! Four audit logs, three null values, two missing files and a ragged hierarchy.

Seasons gratings!
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Category: Information Development
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by: John McClure
21  Dec  2013

The RDF PROVenance Ontology

"At the toolbar (menu, whatever) associated with a document there is a button marked "Oh, yeah?". You press it when you lose that feeling of trust. It says to the Web, 'so how do I know I can trust this information?'. The software then goes directly or indirectly back to metainformation about the document, which suggests a number of reasons.” [[Tim Berners Lee, 1997]]

“The problem is – and this is true of books and every other medium – we don’t know whether the information we find [on the Web] is accurate or not. We don’t necessarily know what its provenance is.” – Vint Cerf

The Worldwide Web Consortium (W3) has hit another home-run when the RDF PROVenance Ontology officially became a member of the Resource Description Framework last May. This timely publication proposes a data model well-suited to its task: representing provenance metadata about any resource. Provenance data for a thing relates directly to its chain of ownership, its development or treatment as a managed resource, and its intended uses and audiences. Provenance data is a central requirement for any trust-ranking process that often occurs against digital resources sourced from outside an organization.

The PROV Ontology is bound to have important impacts on existing provenance models in the field, including Google’s Open Provenance Model Vocabulary; DERI’s X-Prov and W3P vocabularies; the open-source SWAN Provenance, Authoring and Versioning Ontology and Provenance Vocabulary; Inference Web’s Proof Markup Language-2 Ontology; the W3C’s now outdated RDF Datastore Schema; among others. As a practical matter, the PROV Ontology is already the underlying model for the bio-informatics industry as implemented at Oxford University, a prominent thought-leader in the RDF community.

At the core of the PROV Ontology is a conceptual data model with semantics instantiated by serializations including RDF and XML plus a notation aimed at human consumption. These serializations are used by implementations to interchange provenance data. To help developers and users create valid provenance, a set of constraints are defined, useful to the creation of provenance validators. Finally, to further support the interchange of provenance, additional definitions are provided for protocols to locate access and connect multiple provenance descriptions and,most importantly how to interoperate with the widely used Dublin Core two metadata vocabularies.

The PROV Ontology is slightly ambitious too despite the perils of over-specification. It aims to provide a model not just for discrete data-points and relations applicable to any managed-resource, but also for describing in-depth the processes relevant to its development as a concept. This is reasonable in many contexts — such as a scholarly article, to capture its bibliography — but it seems odd in the context of non-media resources such as Persons. For instance, it might be odd to think of a notation of one’s parents as within the scope of “provenance data”. The danger of over-specification is palpable in the face of grand claims that, for instance, scientific publications will be describable by the PROV Ontology to an extent that reveals “How new results were obtained: from assumptions to conclusions and everything in between” [W3 Working Group Presentation].

Recommendations. Enterprises and organizations should immediately adopt the RDF PROVenance Ontology in their semantic applications. At a minimum this ontology should be deeply incorporated within the fundamentals of any enterprise-wide models now driving semantic applications, and it should be a point of priority among key decision-makers. Based upon my review and use in my clients’ applications, this ontology is surely of a quality and scope that it will drive a massive amount of web traffic clearly to come in the not distant future. A market for user-facing ‘trust’ tools based on this ontology should begin to appear soon that can stimulate the evolution of one’s semantic applications.

Insofar as timing, the best strategy is to internally incubate the present ontology, with plans to then fully adopt the second Candidate Recommendation. This gives the standardization process for this Recommendation a chance to achieve a better level of maturity and completeness.

Category: Data Quality, Enterprise Data Management, Information Development, Information Governance, Information Management, Information Strategy, Information Value, Master Data Management, Metadata, Semantic Web, Web Content Management
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by: Bsomich
21  Dec  2013

Weekly IM Update.

Missed what happened in the MIKE2.0 Community this week? Check out our weekly update:

 

 
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The Five Phases of MIKE2.0

In order to realize results more quickly, the MIKE2.0 Methodology has abandoned the traditional linear or waterfall approach to systems development. In its stead, MIKE2.0 has adopted an iterative, agile approach called continuous implementation. This approach divides the development and rollout of anentire system into a series of implementation cycles. These cycles identify and prioritize the portions of the system that can be constructed and rolled out before the entire system is complete. Each cycle also includes

  • A feedback step to evaluate and prioritize the implementation results
  • Strategy changes
  • Improvement requests on the future implementation cycles.

Following this approach, there are five phases to the MIKE2.0 Methodology:

Feel free to check them out when you have a moment.

  Sincerely,

MIKE2.0 Community

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This Week’s Food for Thought:

Turning decision making into a game

Organisations are more complex today than ever before, largely because of the ability that technology brings to support scale, centralisation and enterprise-wide integration.  One of the unpleasant side effects of this complexity is that it can take too long to get decisions made.Read more.

Making Sense of Microsemantics

Like many, I’m one who’s been around since the cinder block days, once entranced by shiny Tektronix tubes stationed nearby a dusty card sorter. After years using languages as varied as Assembler through Scheme, I’ve come to believe the shift these represented, from procedural to declarative, has well-improved the flexibility of software organizations produce.Read more.

Does your company need data visualization apps?

Few learned folks dispute the fact that the era of Big Data has arrived. Debate terms if you like, but most of us are bombarded with information these days. The question is turning to, How do we attempt to understand all of this data?

Read more.

 

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by: Bsomich
14  Dec  2013

Weekly IM Update.

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What is an Open Methodology Framework?

An Open Methodology Framework is a collaborative environment for building methods to solve complex issues impacting business, technology, and society.  The best methodologies provide repeatable approaches on how to do things well based on established techniques. MIKE2.0′s Open Methodology Framework goes beyond the standards, techniques and best practices common to most methodologies with three objectives:

  • To Encourage Collaborative User Engagement
  • To Provide a Framework for Innovation
  • To Balance Release Stability with Continuous Improvement

We believe that this approach provides a successful framework accomplishing things in a better and collaborative fashion. What’s more, this approach allows for concurrent focus on both method and detailed technology artifacts. The emphasis is on emerging areas in which current methods and technologies lack maturity.

The Open Methodology Framework will be extended over time to include other projects. Another example of an open methodology, is open-sustainability which applies many of these concepts to the area of sustainable development. Suggestions for other Open Methodology projects can be initiated on this article’s talk page.

We hope you find this of benefit and welcome any suggestions you may have to improve it.

Sincerely,

MIKE2.0 Community

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This Week’s Blogs for Thought:

The Sound of Sound Information Security
I like it when I stumble across examples of information management concepts.  While working on a podcast interview with William McKnight discussing his new book Information Management: Strategies for Gaining a Competitive Advantage with Data, I asked William for a song recommendation to play as background music while I read his bio during the opening segment of the podcast.

After William emailed me an Apple iTunes audio file for the song “Mother North” off of the 1996 album Nemesis Divina by Norwegian black metal band Satyricon, as the following screen capture shows, I ran into an issue when I attempted to play the song on my computer.

Read more.

In Defense of Structured Data

Writing a book is always a rewarding and challenging endeavor. Ask any author. As I pen these words, I am going through the final edits on The Visual Organization. As someone who recognizes that plenty of great work has already been done in the area of data visualization, I dutifully cite a slew of sources.

It’s just smart to recognize the previous contributions of others in any field, especially the influential ones. What’s more, attribution and intellectual property are fundamental to the world of publishing. And I certainly like receiving credit for things I have written and said. I get a little miffed when I don’t.

Read more.

The Gordian Knot of Big Data Integration

According to legend, the Gordian Knot was an intricate knot binding the ox-cart of the peasant-turned-king Gordias of Phrygia (located in the Balkan Peninsula of Southeast Europe) to a pole within the temple of Zeus in Gordium.  It was prophesied that whoever loosed the knot would become ruler of all Asia.

In 333 BC, Alexander the Great sliced the knot in half with a stroke of his sword (the so-called “Alexandrian solution”) and that night there was a violent thunderstorm, which Alexander took as a sign that Zeus was pleased and would grant Alexander many victories.  He then proceeded to conquer Asia, and much of the then known world, apparently fulfilling the prophecy.

Read more.

 

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Category: Information Development
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by: Phil Simon
09  Dec  2013

In Defense of Structured Data

Writing a book is always a rewarding and challenging endeavor. Ask any author. As I pen these words, I am going through the final edits on The Visual Organization. As someone who recognizes that plenty of great work has already been done in the area of data visualization, I dutifully cite a slew of sources.

It’s just smart to recognize the previous contributions of others in any field, especially the influential ones. What’s more, attribution and intellectual property are fundamental to the world of publishing. And I certainly like receiving credit for things I have written and said. I get a little miffed when I don’t.

While this is often a bit of an administrative burden on the author, I get it. This means that I have to ask for and receive permissions from media sites, bloggers, and individuals if I want to use more than a certain number of their words.

Better Data Collection Mechanisms

Still, there’s a way to collect and track this information that makes it less onerous for all involved. No, we don’t have to build a sophisticated database, but simple spreadsheets are far superior for this type of rudimentary data management. (And, make no mistake, that’s exactly what this exercise invovles.)

Lamentably, though, not everyone sees it this way. For instance, the data-challenged wizards at FastCompany had me follow an inefficient and borderline excruciating “process” of writing several e-mails to several different companies. This included a series of questions collected in a free-response format. A web-based survey would have better for all concerned. Responding to individual e-mails doesn’t lend itself to easy and comprehensive analysis.

At the end of the e-mail chain, someone new sent me what appeared to be an arbitrary number on what I’d have to pay to use 87 words from an article of theirs. That price was in my view excessive and capricious, underscored by the nature the process.

Simon Says: Structure What You Can

You’ll get no argument from me on the importance of unstructured data. Still, structured data remains exceptionally valuable. There’s just no excuse for treating everything as unstructured.

The smartest folks and organizations out there are breaking from old habits and recognizing that one size doesn’t necessarily fit all. Creating structure where it makes sense saves a great deal of time and allows others to see things that others miss. As Henry David Thoreau once said, “It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see.”

Feedback

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by: Bsomich
07  Dec  2013

Weekly IM Update.

 
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Business Drivers for Better Metadata Management

There are a number Business Drivers for Better Metadata Management that have caused metadata management to grow in importance over the past few years at most major organisations. These organisations are focused on more than just a data dictionary across their information – they are building comprehensive solutions for managing business and technical metadata.Our wiki article on the subject explores many factors contributing to the growth of metadata and guidance to better manage it:  

Feel free to check it out when you have a moment.

Sincerely,MIKE2.0 Community

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This Week’s Blogs for Thought:

Twitter: Rubbish, Valuable, or Both?

We reach a certain age and the music gets too loud. We believe that the world is going to hell in a hand basket. Things were just better when we were young.

This is always the case, and today is no exception. The complaints can be deafening. Young people don’t read books anymore. Look at what young folks are wearing. We decry the state of society and the future.

Of course, we’ve seen this movie before; every generation does this. Many people my age and older dismiss Twitter and the very idea tweeting. Somehow, reading books and newspapers were more sophisticated than texting, tweeting, blogging, and friending.

Read more.

The Data of Damocles

While the era of Big Data invokes concerns about privacy and surveillance, we still tender our privacy as currency for Internet/mobile-based services as the geo-location tags, date-time stamps, and other information associated with our phone calls, text messages, emails, and social networking status updates become the bits and bytes of digital bread crumbs we scatter along our daily paths as our self-surveillance avails companies and governments with the data needed to track us, target us with personalized advertising, and terrorize us with the thought of always being watched.Read more.

Evernote’s Three Laws of Data Protection

“It’s all about bucks, kid. The rest is conversation.” –Michael Douglass as Gordon Gekko, Wall Street (1987) Sporting more than 60 million users, Evernote is one of the most popular productivity apps out there these days. You may in fact use the app to store audio notes, video, pics, websites, and perform a whole host of other tasks. Read more.

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Category: Information Development
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by: Bsomich
16  Nov  2013

Weekly IM Update.

Missed what happened in the MIKE2.0 community this week? Here’s a great recap:
 
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MIKE2.0 Wiki Topic Index

We’ve recently added a new topic index to make searching our wiki more user-friendly. This week we’re featuring the Overview and Key Concepts Section, which includes:

Concept Papers (2)
Implementation Guide (10)
Introduction to MIKE2.0 (20)
MIKE2 Activities (68)
Continous Improvement (6)
Strategic Mobilisation (1)
Information Development Phases (6)
Overview and Key Concepts (6)
Concept Papers (2)
Information Development Concepts (19)
Application Development (4)
Information Strategy, Architecture and Governance
Enterprise Information Assessment (3)
Enterprise Information Integration (1)
Enterprise Information Management Strategy (1)
IT Transformation (8)
Model Driven Architecture (1)
Networked Information Governance (3)
Services Oriented Architecture (14)
Regulatory Reporting (2)
Requirements Gathering (17)
Software Delivery Lifecycle (12)
Testing (9)
Infrastructure Development (16)
Introduction to MIKE2.0 (20)

We hope you’ll browse through when you have a moment! For more information on MIKE2.0 or how to get involved with the online MIKE2.0 community, please contact us.

Sincerely,

MIKE2.0 Community  

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This Week’s Blogs for Thought:

Semantic Business Vocabularies and Rules

For many in the traditional applications development community, “semantics” sounds like a perfect candidate for a buzzword tossed at management in an effort to pry fresh funding for what may appear to be academic projects with not much discernible practical payback. Indeed when challenged for examples of “semantic applications” often one hears stumbling litanies about “Linked Open Data”, ubiquitous “URLs” and “statement triples”. Traditional database folks might then retort where’s the beef?

Read more.

We is Smaller Than the Sum of its Me Parts

In Why Does E=mc2? (And Why Should We Care?), Brian Cox and Jeff Forshaw explained “the energy released in chemical reactions has been the primary source of power for our civilization since prehistoric times.  The amount of energy that can be liberated for a given amount of coal, oil, or hydrogen is at the most fundamental level determined by the strength of the electromagnetic force, since it’s this force that determines the strength of the bonds between atoms and molecules that are broken and reformed in chemical reactions.  However, there’s another force of nature that offers the potential to deliver vastly more energy for a given amount of fuel, simply because it’s much stronger.”

Read more.

VanRoekel is Obama’s CIO

I recently had the opportunity to hear Steven VanRoekel, the second person who’s ever occupied a position I am glad to hear about: Federal Chief Information Officer of the United States. His talk was about federal information technology and initiatives he’s now implementing for the White House Office of Management and Budget. Prior to OMB, VanRoekel’s career ran from Microsoft (speechwriter for Bill Gates) through the Federal Communications Commission. During his tenure at the FCC, VanRoekel has been credited with modernizing aging IT infrastructures, using open-source based, cloud powered platforms for both web and VOIP applications; plus launching a Twitter account (with more than 400,000 followers!); plus the first federal “developer” website, crowd-sourcing data for projects like the National Broadband Map; plus the first to accept public comment via social media.

Read more.

Category: Information Development
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by: John McClure
14  Nov  2013

VanRoekel is Obama’s CIO

I recently had the opportunity to hear Steven VanRoekel, the second person who’s ever occupied a position I am glad to hear about: Federal Chief Information Officer of the United States. His talk was about federal information technology and initiatives he’s now implementing for the White House Office of Management and Budget.

Prior to OMB, VanRoekel’s career ran from Microsoft (speechwriter for Bill Gates) through the Federal Communications Commission. During his tenure at the FCC, VanRoekel has been credited with modernizing aging IT infrastructures, using open-source based, cloud powered platforms for both web and VOIP applications; plus launching a Twitter account (with more than 400,000 followers!); plus the first federal “developer” website, crowd-sourcing data for projects like the National Broadband Map; plus the first to accept public comment via social media.

Whew! This fellow surely walks the talk!

He spoke for 30 minutes (you can see the video here) about topics that included President Obama’s open data policy, digital government strategy and the upcoming Federal Information Technology Acquisition Reform Act.

Here’s a few highlights.

VanRoekel has typical CIO responsibilities: planning & managing about US$ 80B civilian systems’ budget and its attendant workforce; while meeting responsibilities for governance of what seems an infinite trove of public and classified information, all increasingly exposed as cybersecurity targets. No small job at all, so his views must be experienced and mature.

Open data. VanRoekel voices a deep committment to nurturing both public open-source and private development of new information-based applications which benefit communities and individuals in their daily lives (of course, he’s referring to the semantic web). He’d anticipates many opportunities for data collection and data sharing, even by corporate entities. (However judging by the paucity of details about initiatives in this regard it’s not clear what priority this issue gets in this CIO’s time. This is a pity because surely EPA planners, and maybe common sense, indicate immediate benefits from local-level 2-1-1 semantic triple-stores.)

Private data. VanRoekel has apparently made recent Policy Directives onward applicable which require special reporting regarding protection of private individual and corporate data both during transmission and during storage. He cites that the government tracks web requests only at the regional level, so presumably he’s saying not by IP address.

Service quality. VanRoekel sounds a note about the future, suggesting even something sounding like government-sponsored Google Ads are on the way. He also touted a “Presidential Innovation Fellows” initiative as the latest avenue for coalescing ideas into working prototypes. In this regard he mentions Project MyUSA (My.USA.gov) as a site that “re-imagines the government interface”, offering APIs, personal toolbars, and offering highly useful doorways to governments treasure chest.

Cloud computing. VanRoekel claims to be a principal engineer of the federal governments computing infrastructure, and is an exceptional supporter of cloud computing economies in a federal budgeting context. In response to the impact of Snowden revelations he sees the current disruption in the reputations of American cloud service providers in the global market, is indicative of the need for nations to coordinate cross=boundary cloud operations and other regulatory matters (no doubt such as tarriffs).

A very worthwhile talk.

Category: Information Development
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by: John McClure
11  Nov  2013

Semantic Business Vocabularies and Rules

For many in the traditional applications development community, “semantics” sounds like a perfect candidate for a buzzword tossed at management in an effort to pry fresh funding for what may appear to be academic projects with not much discernible practical payback. Indeed when challenged for examples of “semantic applications” often one hears stumbling litanies about “Linked Open Data”, ubiquitous “URLs” and “statement triples”. Traditional database folks might then retort where’s the beef? because URLs in web applications are certainly just as ubiquitous, are stored in database columns which are named just as “semantic properties” are; are in rows with foreign keys as construable as “subjects” in a standard semantic statement; and that’s still not to mention the many, many other SQL tools in which enterprises have heavily, heavily invested over many, many years! So…

It’s a good question – where IS the beef?

The Object Management Group (OMG), a highly respected standards organization with outsized impacts on many enterprises, has recently released a revision of its Semantics of Business Vocabulary and Rules (SBVR) that provides one clear answer to this important question.

Before we go there, let’s stipulate that for relatively straight-forward (but nonetheless closed world) applications, it’s probably not worth the time nor expense to ‘semanticize’ the application and its associated database. These are applications that have few database tables; that change at a low rate; that have fairly simple forms-based user interfaces, if any; and that are often connected through transaction queues with an enterprise’s complex of applications. For these, fine, exclude them from projects migrating an enterprise to a semantic-processing orientation.

Another genre of applications are those said ‘mission critical’. These applications are characterized by a large number of database tables and consequently a large number of columns and datatypes the application needs to juggle. These applications have moderate to high rates of change to accommodate functional requirements due to shifting (and new additions to) of dynamic enterprises — not so much mission creep as it is the normal response to the tempo of the competitive environments in which enterprises exist.

The fact is that the physical schema for a triples-based (or quad-based) semantic database does not change; the physical schema is static. Rather, it’s the ontology, the logical database schema, that changes to meet new requirements of the enterprise. This is an important outcome of a re-engineered applications development process: this eliminates often costly tasks associated with designing, configuring and deploying physical schema.

Traditionalists might view this shift as mere cleverness, one equally accomplished by tools which transform logical database designs into physical database schema. Personally I don’t have the background to debate the effectiveness of these tools. However, let’s take a larger view, one suggested by the OMG specification for Business Vocabularies and Rules.

Business Policies – where it begins, and will end

Classically business management establishes policies which are sent to an Information Technology department for incorporation to new and existing applications. It is then the job of systems analysts to stare at these goats and translate them into coding specifications for development and testing. Agile and other methodologies help speed this process internally to the IT department, however until the fundamental dynamic between management and IT changes, this cycle remains slow, costly and mistake-prone.

Now this is where OMG’s SBVR applies: it is an ontology for capturing rules such as “If A, then thou shalt not do X when Y or Z applies; otherwise thou shalt do B and C” into a machine-processable form (that is, into semantic statements). Initially suitably trained system analysts draft these statements as well as pertinent queries which are to be performed by applications at the proper moment. However at some point tools will appear that permit management themselves to draft and test the impact of new and changed policies against live databases.

This is real business process re-engineering at its brightest. Policy implementation and operational costs are affected as the same language (a somewhat ‘structured English’) is used to state what should and must be as that used to state what is. Without that common language, enterprises can only rely on the skills of systems analysts to adequately communicate business, and regulatory, requirements to others.

Capturing & weaving unstructured lexical information into enterprise applications, has never been possible with traditional databases. This is why ‘semantics’ is such a big deal.

Cheers!

Category: Enterprise Content Management, Information Development, Information Management, Information Strategy, Information Value, Master Data Management, Semantic Web
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