Title: Provide a reference information system and service to improve communication between everyone (e.g., people, groups, organizations, cultures, nations) and computers.
People need information to perform at their best level and to make their best decisions. Much of that information now comes from information systems over a network such as the Internet. These information systems have database, business rule, and business-process logic parts in the software, as well as hardware and network parts.
The databases, rules, processes, and logic are built using the natural language (e.g., US English) of the developer, project manager, system analyst, requirements analyst, functional manager, portfolio/investment manager, financial manager, and executive manager.
But what happens to the information systems and all of the parts needed to build it if all of these people involved in creating and operating it DO NOT speak the same language? Answer: The information system is not built, or is built with many errors, faults, deficiencies, and misunderstandings.
Imagine how far building this information system would progress if each person involved only understood 20% of what the person before them and after them in the building sequence was saying, writing, or drawing. That would be the case if each person in the development process spoke a different natural language like English, French, Spanish, German, Chinese, Japanese, etc.
You might think that since everyone on a US English-speaking team happens to speak and write using the same natural language, that they would have much better communication. They would, because of that shared language and the education, society, and culture behind it. But even with the same natural language, a large percentage (e.g., 25%) of the words that are used by a person, and how they are used, in the process, would not be understood by those around them.
This 25% of unknown words (i.e., the meanings are not known) and how they are used (i.e., their situation), causes enough errors in communication to cause individuals, groups, communities, organizations, and combinations of these to “fail to communicate” and thus fail or fall short in their endeavors. This 25% of unknown words are typically called “jargon”. Everyone has and uses their own jargon. It forms and evolves naturally. Reconciling and reducing the jargon is where the discipline of society, education, and culture comes into play.
If you look at the typical cost of developing an information system, the highest cost is not for the hardware, software, network services, operations staff, or managers. The highest single cost for any information system, in both developing it and repairing it, is the cost of analyzing and specifying the information requirements to be satisfied by the system, including its data, data structure (i.e., metadata), business rules, activity sequence (i.e., process), and controls over the process.
In the same way that a specific type of technology is widely used today in translating between natural languages, that same technology needs to be applied, using a consistent process, to translate between the persons and groups within an endeavor who are using jargon. Jargon blocks transparency (i.e., it enables hiding), reduces operational effectiveness and efficiency, and makes accountability, discipline, consistency, cohesiveness, and cooperation difficult.
If you create and make available an information system that is used to collect and organize what people mean by their words and symbols, in their writing, speech, and images, and in what situation each meaning applies, then the ability to analyze and specify information requirements could then be largely automated. This type of information system is called a Terminology Server.
Terminology servers range from:
>very simple low-capability and limited-audience terminologies (e.g., glossaries, dictionaries),
> to medium-capability and medium-audience (e.g., above capabilities plus taxonomies, and simple concept models such as concept maps, concept of operation models, and conceptual data models),
>to high-capability and broad-audience (e.g., above capabilities plus thesaurus, and richer concept models such as Logical Data Models for database schema, Object Role Models for class structures, Architecture metamodels with Architecture models, Configuration Management datamodels and Asset data, Process Models, Ontologies with knowledge-bases, and Axiologies with value-chains). Note that this high level terminology server combines, but need not replace, the functions and content of several other types of IT-management and operations-management technologies.
Even more essential than the terminology server is a terminology process to guide the terminology-developers through the various capability levels from low to high. By following a consistent terminology process, the much sought-after “semantic interoperability” for Service Oriented Architecture (SOA) and overall data, person, group, community, and organization interoperability can be achieved using the high-level terminology, and the very expensive requirement analysis and specification for information systems can then be large automated.
What I propose is a terminology-enabled operations management and improvement (TOMI) system and service, provided to the nation as a shared reference by the Federal Government. I have published my approach for building and maintaining this TOMI capability into the public domain at http://sites.google.com/a/one-world-is.org/gem-ema/Home/gem-approach/2-gem-methodology/data-architecture-terminology. What you can do with a TOMI system is described at http://gem-ema.one-world-is.org.