Bob: Readers of TDAN.com,
My good friends at DAMA International — http://www.DAMA.org — recently announced publication of the DAMA Dictionary of Data Management. The Dictionary is a CD containing a PDF file containing definitions for over 850 data management terms.
DAMA celebrated the availability of this new resource at the DAMA International Symposium & Wilshire Meta Data Conference in San Diego March 16-20, 2008. I spoke with Mark Mosley, editor of the Dictionary, at the conference. Mark is a Principal Consultant with EWSolutions, a Certified Data Management Professional, and a member of DAMA for 20 years.
Good morning Mark. Thank you for taking the time to speak with me. Can you please tell me why DAMA is publishing a Dictionary of Data Management, and who is the intended audience?
Mark: As the premiere organization for data management professionals, DAMA seeks to lead the data management profession to maturity. One of the hallmarks of a mature profession is a common vocabulary with clearly understood definitions. DAMA offers the Dictionary to a field in great need of clarity in its terminology and semantics.
We hope the Dictionary will be a useful tool for data management professionals, IT colleagues, managers, data stewards and business leaders. All of these people share responsibility for data management, so it’s very important for all parties to speak a common language.
Bob: Yes, we all continue to struggle with our terms and definitions.
Mark: In fact, I believe we’ve made great progress in coming to consensus over the years – progress not being easily recognized. In compiling the Dictionary, I’ve come to believe we agree on much more than we disagree. We will never fully agree – in fact, disagreement is healthy. Continuing dialog over terms and their meanings will improve the clarity and precision of our professional vocabulary in future editions of the Dictionary.
Bob: Why is the Dictionary available as a CD?
Mark: The main reason was ease of reference; we thought an electronic deliverable would be easier to use. It’s also more compact and environmentally responsible. Frankly, we also wanted to make some money from sales of the Dictionary. DAMA International is looking for new revenue streams that can fund new publications and research.
Bob: How can someone get a copy?
Mark: You can order a CD from amazon.com! Or you can order one on the DAMA International website, www.dama.org. And of course we have them here for sale at the conference!
DAMA is very grateful for its partnership with Steve Hoberman in publishing the Dictionary. Steve is a highly respected data modeling consultant and author – and a DMBOK contributor! DAMA is publishing the Dictionary through Steve’s independent publishing company, Technics Publications.
Bob: How do you expect the Dictionary to be used?
Mark: I expect the primary use will be as a standard reference document using the Search function in Adobe Acrobat. However, I also expect organizations will copy and revise the document contents to create their own enterprise information management (EIM) glossaries. We want people to cite their references to the Dictionary.
Bob: How did the Dictionary come to be?
Mark: The Dictionary was originally drafted as the Glossary for the DAMA Guide to the Data Management Body of Knowledge (DAMA-DMBOK Guide). The DAMA-DMBOK Guide will be a “definitive introduction” to data management, summarizing data management goals, principles, processes, deliverables, roles, technology, practices and organizational/cultural issues. Development began in 2006, and DAMA expects to publish the first edition of DAMA-DMBOK Guide sometime in 2009.
The DAMA-DMBOK Guide is a collaborative effort with multiple authors contributing to an integrated viewpoint. DMBOK contributors are DAMA members volunteering their time and expertise. I’m the editor and project leader for the DAMA-DMBOK Guide.
Early on, the project team and the DAMA-DMBOK Advisory Board recognized a need for a common glossary, enabling all authors to use terms in a consistent manner. Contributing authors must agree to glossary definitions or propose revisions acceptable to all the other impacted authors.
Bob: Can you tell my readers how the Dictionary was developed?
Mark: We needed a baseline glossary quickly, and as volunteers, we didn’t have time to debate definitions at length. We needed a draft document that we could continually revise.
So as DMBOK editor, I began by listing terms and studying definitions found in generally available dictionaries, professional publications and online references. Understanding the commonalities across definitions from multiple sources, and reviewing my own experience and usage, I drafted what I considered to be original, “best of breed” definitions, ensuring internal consistency with the definitions of closely related terms. No definition was copied verbatim from any source, and no single source can be cited for a given definition.
The first draft was developed over several weeks in the summer of 2006. These definitions were then reviewed and revised by the contributing authors and the Advisory Board. Revision continues as DMBOK contributors continue to draft, review and revise their chapters.
The Glossary continues to be an important integration tool guiding collaborative development of the DAMA-DMBOK Guide. However, the DAMA Executive Board quickly realized the value of the Glossary in its own right, and urged for the early completion and publishing of the Glossary as the DAMA Dictionary of Data Management. I deeply appreciate the support for this effort from the DAMA Executive Board, especially from our primary project sponsor, Deborah Henderson.
Sir Isaac Newton once said, “If I have seen farther, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.” This quote itself is an improved paraphrase of statements made by Robert Burton 100 years earlier, and by a Roman poet centuries before. The Dictionary was developed in this same spirit, building on the contributions made by countless data management professionals over many years.
This First Edition is a baseline for continuous improvement. There are many shortcomings, some already recognized and I’m sure most yet to be discovered. Any outright errors found are my own. I welcome suggestions for improvements to be made in future editions.
Bob: How can Dictionary users provide feedback?
Mark: I expect DAMA will put the Dictionary up as a wiki for online contributions and revision, hopefully later this year. But for now, please email me your comments and suggestions for improvement to DAMA-DMBOKeditorinchief@dama.org. Or even better, share your comments on dictionary definitions for others to see and discuss on our DMBOK blog at http://www.dmbok.blogspot.com.
Bob: Mark, thank you for taking the time to discuss the DAMA Dictionary of Data Management with me. It sounds like an excellent resource for data management professionals. I look forward to putting my copy to good use.