Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Other notes from the plenary

One more note about the "bit rot" observation by Vint Cerf. Living systems, at least higher order organisms, uniformly exhibit a kind of design pattern for forgetfulness and remodeling of structural components, in particular decomposition of parts that are no longer operating in a satisfactory manner.  We forget things. Our bones break down and reform. Our hair falls out. That is part of the correctly working design.

What most information system planning lacks, and what is most often missing from information systems themselves, is an apoptosis function. We need a "programmed cell death" aspect interleaved within architectures in order to avoid an otherwise inevitable overgrowth and the need for undesirable necrosis.

Mind you, I'm not meaning that we need garbage collection. We already have systems that do garbage collection.  We also have systems that serve an immune function, but we don't handle that very seamlessly. What I'm really talking about is architectural styles which lend themselves to ongoing modifications while neither introducing new fissures nor forcing parts to hang around forever.

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