The Data Is Only Part of the Message

Marshall McLuhan is famous for his statement, “The medium is the message.”  In McLuhan’s definition of “medium” we get the broadest possible scope.  The media that McLuhan describes encompasses any “thing”, any “form” that can be used to communicate.  And I feel that McLuhan’s definition is more suitable for the definition of the interrogative “what” in defining a system than John Zachman’s “data”.  Data is too often restricted to digital media and most computer systems deal with media outside of this scope.  Therefore, I propose altering the Zachman Framework Abstract to use the term “medium” instead of “data” and calling the result the “McLuhan Framework”.


From here on in we don’t talk of a “data model” we talk of a “media model”.


Sanity (revisited)

After a bit of reflection it occurred to me that each of the data manipulation operations reflects each of the four aspects of sanity I discussed earlier. It is almost as if being granted these operations by your mind is being granted your degree of health.

  1. Select
  2. Insert
  3. Update
  4. Delete

If you have select privilege you are able to focus. If you have insert privilege you are allowed flexibility. If you have update privilege you maintain objectivity. If you have delete privilege you are permitting yourself to be resilient.

It should be noted that you not only grant these privileges to yourself. You grant them to other people as well. Then the security cube can become personally relevant defining your simplicity or complexity as a person. The same goes for any system you design.

System Security

John Zachman’s use of the basic interrogatives to define a system lends itself to alternative analysis. One of these cases is system security. When it comes to security there are only four acts you can commit: Select, Insert, Update and Delete. However, you can commit these acts for each of the Zachman Framework Focuses: Data, Network, Motive, Process, People, Time and each of the Zachman Perspectives: Conceptual, Contextual, Logical, Physical, Mechanical, Instantial. What you have as a product is not just a security table, but a security cube. Below is an example of a security table defining 24 possible violations:


A security cube would define 4 x 6 x 6 = 264 possible violations. It should be added that violations do not always work in isolation. For example spyware is a procedural insert and data selection. How many cells in the security cube would be affected if a plane crashed into one of your facilities?

It is also important to note that preventing snooping (or sniffing) is often an effective way to prevent the other three manipulation operations.  What they can’t see can’t hurt you.