150: A Network Threshold

I was thinking about Malcolm Gladwell’s interesting book Tipping Point and it occurred to me that there is a network that is similar to his “The Magic Number 150” chapter that says communities break down when the membership reaches 150.

It is the C60 Buckminsterfullerine or a truncated icosahedron.

Truncated icosahedron

This interesting little geodesate has 60 vertexes and 90 edges.

In the context of an associative database that is 60 entities and 90 associations or 150 Entity Types.

It is interesting that the most symmetrical of shapes might as a network correspond to the threshold he describes in communities.

Danger or Pluralarity?

Thinking about pluralities I was motivated to dig out and dust off my copy of Nicholas G. Carr’s book, Does IT Matter?: Information Technology and the Corrosion of Competitive Advantage. In this piece of pulp Nicholas droned on about the commoditization of hardware and software and the end of the IT industry.

What Nicholas was witnessing in 2003 was the plurality of one generation of hardware and software. Everybody had an office suite and enterprise software suite.  And rightly, they were no longer providing a competitive advantage. What Nicholas was experiencing was a complete lack of imagination with regard to the opportunities the pluralarity presented: the next generation of innovation leading to the next singularity.

In hind sight it was funny how Nicholas shook everybody up, but I didn’t find myself looking for a new career, I found myself looking for innovation and in many respects we found it in Open Source and Web 2.0 Social Software.

I have also found that Relational Database technology is reaching plurality and its limitations are becoming more pronounced as application developers test its limits. It simply does not have the flexibility we need. I’ve seen the future in the Associative Model of Data and have found it fits the Zachman Framework better than current technologies. The need is growing and this architecture fits it.

What Nicholas and all of us should have still been reading was this book:

Peter is still the authority when it comes to experience based instruction.

Say, “Hello World”, with the Associative Model

In the beginning was the priest. Writing materials were produced in limited quantities. Education was monopolized. Scription was a laborious task and difficult to correct with the materials used. Text made filing easy.  Thus you had the Flat database model.

Then came the scribe. Writing materials increased in availability. Education became institutionalized. Scription and transcription were performed by trained personnel who recorded the dictate of untrained personnel in an academic tongue.  Libraries made indexing easy.  Entire scriptoriums were dedicated to the process of document production. Thus you had the Hierarchical database model.

Then came the writer. Writing materials were mass produced. Education became publicized. Individuals wrote their own documents in their own tongue. The printing press guaranteed mass distribution.  Formatted printing made tabulation easy.  Thus you had the Relational database model.

Then came the layperson. Publishing became universally available via the internet.  Education became personalized.  Networks made linking easy.   Thus you had the Associative Model of Data conceived by Simon Williams.

sentences3.jpg

Simon has developed an Associational Database Management System (ADBMS) called Sentences. It foregoes the use of tables and inferred relationships for the use of single attribute entities and explicit relationships. The schema is intrinsic to the database making the business rules immediately available to anyone who accesses it. Finally, it is internet ready with the capability to be distributed across servers. It is a simple, elegant concept well executed, however there are still some hurdles.

The main hurdle is acceptance. Simon has met strong resistance from relational model advocates. He currently has a website offering the Sentences Enterprise Edition for free to anyone who wants it without technical support, but I do not think that is the answer. I believe that the potential of the Associative Model of Data is not fully realized in the Sentences proprietary implementation. If Sentences is to become the industry standard database for the internet, Simon Williams will have to open up Sentences to global collaboration as an open source project. Only then will the Associative Model reach the tipping point that puts it ahead of the relational model as the database architecture of choice for the lay internet user.

Simon needs Java Programmers for development and support and Mathematicians to develop Associational Calculus.

Links:

Lazysoft – Home site of Sentences

I highly recommend going to lazysoft.com and downloading the Sentences Personal and Enterprise Edition to get a feel for this new architecture.  Downloading and intalling the latest Java runtime environment and Sentences can be done in roughly ten minutes.  A populated sample database is ready for exploration.