Friday, 8 January 2010

Standards & Metadata - Part VI

A fable by Paolo Coelho inspired this post, a follow-on to Part V. Here is an excerpt from his e-book Stories for Parents, Children and Grandchildren - Volume 1.

Rebuilding the world
A father was trying to read the newspaper, but his little son kept pestering him. Finally, the father grew tired of this and, tearing a page from the newspaper - one that bore a map of the world - he cut it into several pieces and handed them to his son.
'Right, now you've got something to do. I've given you a map of the world and I want to see if you can put it back together correctly.'
He resumed his reading, knowing that the task would keep the child occupied for the rest of the day. However, a quarter of an hour later, the boy returned with the map.
'Has your mother been teaching you geography?' asked his father in astonishment.
'I don't even know what that is,' replied the boy. 'But there was a photo of a man on the other side of the page, so I put the man back together and found I'd put the world back together too.'
This story can be read in several ways - vintage Coelho - and in this context it points to the importance of standards and metadata:
  • uneducated on the topic, the boy had no idea what a map was
  • information on the reverse side allowed him to rebuild the map
This means to me that:
  • no custodianship can be achieved without context, discussed earlier here
  • metadata are not only key, but also can reside in another business process
I think that keeping context and processes separate, will jointly and severally not only allow to look at problems afresh, but also foster new thinking on old problems.

J van Wijk just did that in finding so-called myriahedral projections, that keep together coastlines and land or sea masses by subdiving the earth into slivers that minimise distortion. Furthermore, this is the best way to see it in video not on a static screen.

Finding new ways to solve old problems was also tackled in different ways in two recent events, which I will post on shortly.
"Don't touch that dial, stay tuned...".