Tag Archives: information

America Offline: fall of a walled gardener

This is a Tale of Two Internets, with a vivid beginning but no clear ending yet.

Technophiles of my ancient generation fondly ruminate over the early glory days of wide network communications, when there were basically two modes:  ARPANET, and Bulletin Board Systems (BBS).  As many know the former was a US government-sponsored networking project that was originally closed to the general public, while the latter was a collective prototype Internet rooted in normal telephony infrastructure and was easily accessible by anyone with the right equipment.

But something curious happened over time.

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Write once, risk many?

As an information management type who firmly believes in the management aspect, I have always been attracted to projects that emphasize consolidating and publishing data in the most efficient ways possible.  My mantra has been “write once, read many”; a simplistic way of putting the need to control a single master source that can be replicated as far and wide as needed.  The immediate benefit of course being that this gets everyone in an organization “on the same page”.

I have been involved in many business operations where individual persons and groups were allowed to control their own versions of master data and the results can be disastrous– large lots of the wrong product built and shipped is one frequent nightmare that comes to mind.

But simply coralling the data is not good enough, and may in fact cause a different sort of harm.  If false data winds up in the master repository then the system is now ensuring that more people suffer the same mistakes.  I have seen this in configuration management systems architectures that do not match the business process.  A single bad data element led to 80% of the defects I discovered in one situation.

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