Structure: Solid, Liquid, Gas

After some reflection, I think the metaphor of structured, semi-structured and unstructured unities is incorrect. For example, there are structured, semi-structured and unstructured data, however the examples Steve Hoffman provides are incorrect. A relational database is structured data, however both a spreadsheet and a text document are both semi-structured data. They are just at either end of a spectrum. Unstructured data is data which is a complete exception–there exists no format to make it readable. Ultimately, it is simply ignored by the system because, though it may have value it cannot be captured.

If my hypothesis is correct, then there is more semi-structured examples of each of the unities than any other type.


Sun Tzu, Water and Unstructured Systems


Systema: Structure

I just read a white paper by Steve Hoberman on Structured, Semi-Structured and Unstructured data. It immediately lead me to take this paradigm and apply it to each of the six unities. This gave me the following table:

For Datum, Steve gave the examples of a relational database for structured, a spreadsheet for semi-structured and a text document for unstructured.

I will be thinking about examples to fill in all the remaining cells.


Tonight I broke out the dictionary and began examining my Latin roots. Spurred on by the term “datum” I decided to go all the way and produce an internally consistent set of terminology for a system:

I have a confession to make.  I abused the Latin a bit.

I recently learned that to enable philosophers of all languages to exchange their work Latin is used as the standard. In working to refine my understanding of system concepts I can see the rationale behind using a language with a thoroughly refined vocabulary and grammar. Dead languages do have utility.

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Systema: Manipulating Relationships

In the last post we looked at entity manipulations. Now let’s look at the next row in the Six Hats Six Coats Framework:

Relationships are all about communication and are subject to the same manipulations as a communication link. We also established earlier that there are six relationship types:

So how do we manipulate these relationships?

The first relationship manipulation is the SELECT:

The SELECT manipulation “snoops” or “eavesdrops” on the relationship between two instances. The relationship is untouched.

The second manipulation is the INSERT:

The INSERT manipulation “throws” or “interjects” into the relationship between two instances. Extra data is added to the relationship, but the original is untouched.

Next is the UPDATE manipulation:

The UPDATE manipulation “spoofs” or “imitates” the relationship between two instances. The original data is changed in value.

Finally we have the DELETE manipulation:

The DELETE manipulation “crashes” or “denies service” between two instances. The original data is completely corrupted or the relationship broken.

And there you have relationship manipulation in a nutshell.

Systema: Mix Thirty-Six

I came up with this representation of de Bono’s “Six Thinking Hats” and Zachman’s “Framework Focuses” early in this blog’s lifetime. I am hoping I have achieved the final form as we see it here. The major change is the switch between the last two rows and the switch between the last two columns. I consider this structure a fixed hierarchy both vertically and horizontally.

As part of my reflection upon this I created a table to think about the various hexads I’ve encountered:

One thing I realize from this exercise is that events are the definitions of the system. If you do not define an event you will never observe it. In other words, you cannot see what you are not looking for. Nodes are the instances of the system and provide the affordances the outside world can manipulate.

You can also see here that I have categorized cause, energy and time as “logical” and observer, mass and space as “physical”. I am just playing here, but what are the potential implications? Could cause, energy and time be simply logical constructs? Could observer, mass and space be the only truly physical constructs?

Related Post:

Systema: Seven Hats, Seven Links

Systema: Off with the Hats, Off with the Coats

In having attempted to think with the Six Thinking Hats metaphor developed by Edward de Bono and attemping to extend it by creating a Six Coat metaphor, I came to the conclusion that Edward was taking the wrong approach. He was using different colors, but he was not differentiating by shape. Consequently, his mnemonic device was hard to retain.

Using the icons I created in the previous post I am now going to abandon Six Hats, Six Coats and abstract the Zachman Framework for Enterprise Architecture using these new mnemonic devices. I hope to improve them with time.


What is not recognized by John Zachman and Enterprise Architects is that the rows and columns of the framework are synonymous and fixed. That indeed there is only one methodology. This means the following:

  1. All concepts are created only by motives. Each motive has a unique set of the six focus concepts or entities.
  2. All contexts are created only by people. Each person has a unique set of the six focus contexts or relationships.
  3. All logics are created only by functions. Each function has a unique set of the six focus logics or attributes.
  4. All physics are created only by data. Each datum has a unique set of the six focus physics or constraints.
  5. All spherics are created only by nodes. Each node has a unique set of the six focus spherics or definitions.
  6. All episodics are created only by events. Each event has a uniques set of the six focus episodics or manipulations.

This is what social networks are teaching us on a smaller scale. When we look at a social network we are seeing contexts being created by persons. But there are five additional focuses (motives, functions, data, nodes, events) that create five additional perspectives (concepts, logics, physics, spherics and episodics) respectively. This we do not fully understand or apply.

Although our thinking is organic and we do not recognize the above framework, any reproduction and refinement of the results would require recording and executing them in this disciplined fashion.