Architected Futures™

Tools and strategies ... for boiling the ocean


Submitted by joe.vansteen on Thu, 05/31/2012 - 09:11

Contextual ImageAs an inaugural post for this public website I thought I'd start with some historical context. Where did some of the ideas for this site come from? What is the origin for the Element Architecture Tool Suite (EATS)?

Since I was very young, I've always been interested in the future. What does it hold? What will it look like? How will it come about? In the 1950's, as a young child, I was a  big fan of Willy Ley and his books depicting rockets and space stations. The idea of space travel and exploring the planets and stars fascinated me. As I grew older Isaac Asimov and Arthur C. Clark became favorite authors. The technology was interesting and exotic. And there was adventure in exploring new worlds, new ways of living, and an aspect of a new era of "Manifest Destiny" — except this time the expansion was outward to the solar system and beyond. But the other part that intrigues me was the planning, the design, the engineering. Given the vision, how did you go about making it happen? What would be involved in making it work? How do you get there from here?

In college I studied architecture, of the buildings, structures and city planning type, for a little over 3 years. I was good with geometry and enjoyed the aspects of form, function, and flow. I also liked the engineering and the problem solving; but found that I didn't have the spatial artistic creative vision and that I saw in a number of my classmates.

So, instead of the architecture of buildings and cities I shifted focus and became involved in what, at the time, was a new field: applying computer systems to business applications. In my case, specifically financial applications. I had no idea as I made that course correction how much the training I had received in architecture was going to come to help me in my new career in information processing. At the time, if you talked about computer or system architecture you were definitely talking about computer hardware. That certainly has changed.

That shift, over time, has brought me to such concepts as Appreciative Inquiry, ideas generated from such sources as a Murray Turrof article about computer-based conferencing from the late 1970's, Delphi processes, cybernetics and ideas around the Viable Systems Model originated by Stafford Beer, and further ideas around those concepts when doing projects in the 1980's involving a methodology called WISDM and then JAD-type sessions for project development. Ideas that supported intelligent methodologies for systems development long before things like Agile became buzzword concepts to manage software development projects, with debatable improvements in long-term benefits. (It has it's benefits, but I'm not it's biggest fan.) One soft technology of the period that had a big impact was something called Information Engineering, as advocated by its gurus James Martin  and Clive Finkelstein.

The corporation of the future will be run with a vast mesh of interacting computers and data-based systems. It will be impossible to manage and build the procedures to take advantage of this technology without some form of information engineering, appropriately automated. The encyclopedia, which is the heart of information engineering, will be a vital corporate resource.

- James Martin (1989)
Information Engineering, Volume 1

That concept, supporting a vastly more pervasive and critical role in the world today is central to what you will find here.


(Draft initiated May 31, 2012. Revised and published December 7, 2015.)


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