Thursday, February 17, 2011

Running Stop Signs

I’m not a lawyer; I don’t even play one on TV.  But, I did once win a court case - a case involving a traffic citation for running a Stop sign.  As we have established here on a number of occasions, I am but a mild-mannered enterprise architect, hardly the type to flaunt the institutional governance that establishes the balanced flow of goods and services within the appropriate bounds of safety. 

Among my many idiosyncratic manifestations, however, is an utter intolerance for unjustified retribution.  In short, don’t tell me I’ve crossed “the line”, if you haven’t taken reasonable steps to identify said longitudinal barrier.  Define the line.  One of my earliest grade school memories is of a teacher barking, “You’re outa’ line Meredith.”  Gee, I didn’t know there was a line, let alone that I was out of it.  My attempts to solicit information about this line were met with detention and unpleasant phone calls to mom.  But I digress.

If there are rules … Just... tell... me... what... they... are!  I can be compliant, I can be frustrated, I can be many things, but I am not, and never will be clairvoyant.  Define the line because I can neither read minds, nor predict the future. 

So... if you want me to stop my car, you should erect a clearly visible Stop sign.  Thinking of putting up a Stop sign, or putting one up and then allowing the native shrubbery to obfuscate the view pretty much violates the concept of “define the line.”  To make a long story short, I appeared in court with my traffic citation and the photos displayed here to show the judge that while there was a Stop sign, and I did, in fact, proceed unabated through the intersection - the sign was clearly obscured.  (By the way the two words “clearly obscured” can give an analytical thinker recursive migraines).

There are limitless options for deploying web applications, untold permutations of database configurations, and exactly 7,000,000,002 application integration options (it was seven billion and three, but it turns out that no one remembers CORBA).  No company can support everything, so there need to be rules as to what is allowed, when it is allowed, and why. 

But having the rules is not enough.  It is not enough to say “You’re outa’ line” if you haven’t clearly defined the longitudinal barrier (I think I covered this).  We all need to do a better job defining reference architectures that include clear, unambiguous, consumable operating practices.  By “consumable” I mean that the rules need to be written for the consumer rather than the expert.

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