Come back in time with me to 1999. What a year for both movies and data! You probably can guess three good movies released in 1999 just based on these quotes:
- “I see dead people.”
- “Get in my belly.”
- “You take the blue pill – the story ends…”
For data, us in IT were all in the last Y2K push to improve the structure and quality of the data structures within our applications. Even with so much work completed, there remained a level of uneasiness as to what would actually happen when the clock struck midnight to welcome the new millennium.
Speaking of data, 1999 was also exciting for me as I presented at my first major data management conference. I spoke about abstraction, and during my talk there was this guy in the audience who kept asking questions. He liked to challenge and was very articulate and precise with his words. Who was this guy? So passionate about data modeling – it was Dave Hay. This was the beginning of a friendship, where over the years Dave has participated in our monthly design challenges, spoken at our Data Modeling Zone conferences, and written three awesome books:
- Enterprise Model Patterns
- UML and Data Modeling
- Achieving Buzzword Compliance
Achieving Buzzword Compliance just got released last month. It fills a very important niche in data architecture. The goal of the book in one phrase: To explain the language and vocabulary of Data Architecture. Dave uses his skill of making things precise to define many of the concepts within the data management field.
For example, right on page 1 Dave defines the conceptual data model. Want a precise definition of a logical data model? Turn to page 18. Page 19 presents you with a clear definition of the physical data model. Dave raises the ambiguity in many terms we use as part of doing our jobs. I like how Dave contrasts the views of other experts in the industry yet also provides his own opinions and experiences.
The legendary John Zachman, in his foreword to this book, has a fantastic summary on Achieving Buzzword Compliance and the data management industry in general:
“I like the premise of the book. Clearly, the Information domain is in a kind of pre-puberty stage of development. We do not have an agreed-upon ontological structure or even a lexicon, definitions of the essential concepts of our practices. We think we are communicating with each other but we are simply talking. We do not have a “Periodic Table” equivalent that would form the basis of an articulation of the natural laws that govern our practices. My personal opinion is that we, Information People, are much like the Alchemists of Chemistry before it became Chemistry, that is, before Mendeleev published the early versions of the Periodic Table.
In fact, I do not believe that there is a “discipline,” ANY discipline, until the body of serious practitioners have an agreed-upon ontological structure, an identification and formal expression of theoretical constructs, a basis for finding and validating the domain, “laws of nature.” Of course, the domain I personally have in mind is the “Enterprise” domain and David Hay takes a significant step in this direction in “Achieving Buzzword Compliance.”
By the way, it was Kurt Lewin that said, “there is nothing so practical as a good theory.” I would add that if you cannot articulate for me what you are arguing or proposing in the context of “physics” (i.e., laws of nature), I know I am banking on a miracle happening. Magic. Typically, a “silver bullet” … and there are no “silver bullets.”
This is another reason I like “Achieving Buzzword Compliance.” David is explaining to us the causes and effects of choices to be made based on his experience and research and the other practical work of acknowledged thought-leaders.”
My favorite part of Achieving Buzzword Compliance is the distinction between the Semantic Data Model and the Essential Data Model. The Semantic Data Model contains terms that the business is comfortable while the Essential Data Model is much more abstract. The Semantic Data Model for example would include terms such as Customer and Employee, while the Essential Data Model might have the Party Role concept.
A sample of the book can be found at this link.
Also, as a TDAN.com reader, get $10 off the print or PDF version of Achieving Buzzword Compliance using promo code TDAN10 at this link.