It’s about relationships!

Shift of emphasis

After a long drawn-out build-up, lasting decades, it feels to me that we are finally tipping over into a new era of models for systems. Whether thinking about communities of people, about business processes or about social networks, the shift of emphasis is at last now leaning away from “things” and towards the “relationships” between those things.

It is tempting to say: “It’s about relationships, stupid!” (pace James Carville).

Passed the midpoint

Maybe this is because the characteristics of those relationships have been so simple and/or similar that there was not a lot to say about them.But now we are seeing a much richer set of types of “relationship”, or will the terminology be “link”, do you not sense that the transfer in mindshare has passed the mid-point?

Needless to say, there is great deal to understand about this move.

Stay tuned!

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5 thoughts on “It’s about relationships!

  1. Yup, there’s money to be made for those who understand the trends of social computing/networks both inside and outside the corporate firewall. No one really get’s it yet in the org, apart from maybe IBM. Microsoft is catching up fast.. wait until you see what’s coming with Office 2010

    Data mining for want of a better word, knowledge harvesting.. is the thing to get involved with. The question remains, how do you encourage people to share what they know..? What sort of rewards based system could you implement to get them to participate?

    Rob Atkinson

  2. Good points, Rob.

    Very few people have yet understood the trends in relationships which transcend traditional corporate and individual boundaries.

    However, in the past, such significant shifts have proved insurmountable by organisations founded on earlier paradigms. In my view: forget IBM, Microsoft, Oracle, etc, and look to Google, LinkedIn, Facebook/FriendFeed, Twitter and other “connection/relationship oriented” outfits … maybe even Nokia, once they get over their shock and unfounded fear of Apple!

    Yes knowledge management, in general, and data/knowledge mining/harvesting, in particular, are all available once appropriate relationships are established.

    Encouragement, rewards …? Why, isn’t it all good old innovation?!

    John W Lewis

  3. John – Michael Callaghan here (old QA contact). Perhaps there’s no better example of the emergence of relationships as “first class objects” of central importance than the community database Freebase, where the basic unit of data is the triple: subject-relation-object (I’m currently working on a “semantic web” app to be hosted there …)

  4. Hello Michael, it is good to hear from you!

    Thanks for identifying that implementation of relationships. I’d be interested to hear more about how flexible the Freebase construct is.

    At present, in most systems, fundamental relationships are available in a very limited number of fixed types, as was the case for variable types in old fashioned programming languages. Fabrications of more sophisticated relationships usually end up with the implementation fragmented among the classes involved in the relationship. Surely we can do better!

    It will be interesting to see how comprehensively it is feasible for relationships to represented.

    John W Lewis

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