Thursday, April 07, 2005

The P'u of XDI

What is P'u?

... I'm not even going to go there...

To me P'u is 'The Uncarved Block', 'something in its natural state'

One of the basic principles of Taoism is P'U, the Uncarved Block. The essence of
the Uncarved Block is that things in their original simplicity contain their own
natural power, power that is easily spoiled and lost when that simplicity is
changed - "The Tao of Pooh"

Owen and I were talking about the what he called the 'Liquidity of Data'. This is something that we had both experienced; I call it the ultimate ACID trip, of course I mean ACID Transactions . It's when you are interacting with well structured data and suddenly you see the beauty and power that is unlocked in the interactions between the pieces of data (I said it was an acid trip). There is a whole industry that has grown around data mining that tries to unlock that power, that energy, it is generally accepted that it is a very valuable commodity. In the olden days, when I was young, data lived in dbase files. As a young database report writer I learned to respect a well crafted data model, I learned that if you modeled the data well; reports, knowledge, flowed out. I learned that trying to get meaningful reports out of poorly structured data was less than fun. Then, people understood that they needed to share data and move data from one repository to another. Those were hard times, moving 1meg over that 14.4 modem that would keep on dropping it's connection could take hours. And, how to structure the data so that the other people could use it? It was like running up the hill to the village with your water in a hand woven basket. Then XML came to save the day, all of a sudden we had real vessels to move the precious liquid, it was a plastic cup. Then the final touches SOAP, a plastic bottle with a screw on lid. Now you could move your data from one place to another without loss, knowing that anyone could receive it and understand it. This was cool.

But something happened, that ocean of data that spawned life, that ebbed and flowed, a medium we could swim in, was diminished. People thought well if XML / SOAP is so damn useful lets start using it everywhere. We can keep our data AS SOAP. So the image I have is this; imagine the ocean and it's richness, it's untapped potential. Imagine the same quantity of liquid in bottles sealed and stacked, static and dead.

The P'u of XDI is that data in it's raw form is a powerful thing. A call to XDI is a call to liberate data everywhere, throw off your chains and be free....

That was fun :-)

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