Thursday, November 01, 2012

Architecture and Reality

There are various confusing notions of "real" and "reality" circulating in the enterprise architecture world.

1. The idea that business people are only interested in things that are real.

2. The idea that architectural models represent some form of reality.

3. The idea that data contained in a computer represents some form of reality.

4. The idea that the data contained in a computer is itself a higher form of reality.

5. The idea that one artefact can be a realization of another artefact.

6. The idea that artefacts can be arranged along a realization dimension - some artefacts are more or less real/realized than others. For example, a physical data model is supposedly more real/realized than the logical data model.

Now you could believe some of these, but I don't see how anyone could believe all of them at the same time, without fracturing the concept of reality.

Here are some posts that cover some aspects of this.

Faithful Representation, Faithful Representation 2 (Aug 2008) - on the fallacy of regarding a system as a faithful representation of the real world. Among other things, I argue that the problem of knowledge and uncertainty fundamentally disrupts our conventional assumptions about representation, in much the same way that quantum physics disrupts our assumptions about reality. This led to a further series of posts, offering several examples. Responding to Uncertainty, Responding to Uncertainty 2, Analyzing the Rusty Lawnmower (Aug-Sept 2008). 

Architecture and the Imagination (Oct 2012) - on how architects need to think about things that don't yet exist.

From AS-IS to TO-BE (Oct 2012) - three alternative ways of interpreting the notion of realization. See also Deconstructing the Grammar of Business (June 2009), on the correct meaning of "reification".

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