We Need to Make the Information Oriented Toolbox Bigger

There have been a number of previous attempts to work with information orientation:

  • Enumerations
  • XML, lowest language
  • Fuzzy logic
  • Datetime
  • png
  • Knowledge representation/ontologies

These are good tools and yet the toolbox is not big enough yet.

There has been some work done with information oriented architectures. Some quotes from around the web:

Inside Analysis

“Whether they realize it or not, software architects tend to adhere to one of two distinctive views of software: either a process-centric view or a data-centric view” – the problem with this viewpoint is that data and information are different and process is only one kind of information. Still, it is a useful perspective.

Information Roundabout

“Let’s trust our technologies to be sufficiently advanced to cope with the outcomes of our new orientation: information. Information is used by human beings for decision making annex action (behaviour). Making good decisions requires you to avail yourself of the clear meaning of that information. And meaning of information depends on its context … Therefore IOA requires information to be organised systematically [1]: Information connected to its Context.” – This is the information by organized by context approach and is close to what I am trying to do. Organizing by context includes the following approaches:

  1. Relational databases (RDB)
  2. Knowledge representation (KR)
  3. metadata
  4. endematic metadata
  5. endemes
  6. object oriented structures (OO)
  7. XML/JSON etc
  8. intelligent contexts (AI)

The endematic metadata and endemes become a connecting usint between the lower level contexts (RDB, OO, XML) and the higher level contexts (KR, AI). Also from this site: “Systematically organised information naturally provides you with information of the clearest possible meaning. Contextual meaning, of course – which naturally develops on the fly; during use.”


“IOA is about being. IOA provides information to be acted upon, not a set of actions to be requested or used. It says, “This is what I am; make the most of it.” This approach provides freedom to the community to make use of that information as it sees fit. It encourages collaboration and enrichment of this information for the good of the community” – This is a sort of a community approach but just as importantly an approach to information based on what each member of a community wants to do with it. This is very important for information. One of the characteristics of information is that it should be formatted, arrayed, displayed, organized and queried differently by each member of the community. The writer then goes on to talk about ontologies. Important but not the whole story. What is left out is the information about what the ontologies are relating.

Sparkomatic’s Blog says some important things about information:

“the terms Information and Data are so closely related that they are very often used interchangeably without any serious negative consequences. So why do we really need to differentiate between the two? In situations such as a casual conversation it’s arguably harmless to mix those two ideas up, but when it comes to designing, developing and delivering critical Information Solutions to users it’s a much different story. In that case, our collective ability to establish and share a clear understanding of what characterizes an Information Oriented Architecture becomes not only critically important, but also practically very useful in doing the actual work of implementing solutions built on an IOA foundation.”  – It is critical to understand the difference between data and information. He does not say why, but I agree with him. Hen he goes off the rails trying to describe the differences: “Data is mutable, while Information is immutable. Mutability – the ability to mutate, or change value – is really only a property of data, which is concrete and therefore can change. Information, on the other hand, is transcendent, and not immediately or directly realizable. It is merely an image or reflection of the data that it represents.”  – Certainly deriving information from data is an important source, but it is not the onmly source for information. For example I could just tell you some information. My statement if stored is mutable. I could produce information from information. I coudl generate it randomly. I could solicit information from a user. They they could change their mind. A fraction of information is immutable. Much of it is mutable. “Information is Data plus Context. Take the numbers 5 and 7. Taken by themselves they are simply data values, but if we add a context to these values by labeling them as the final scores of the big game, then it becomes information.”  – This part he gets right.




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