A conversation with Bob Glushko about document engineering and business patterns

When I first heard Bob Glushko speak at a conference I knew we were kindred spirits. Our shared interests include information architecture, XML, web services, and the hybrid discipline of document engineering that he and Tim McGrath define in their eponymously-titled new book.

In today's podcast we discuss these topics, focusing particularly on Bob's experience -- first as an industry practitioner, now as an academic instructor -- with the kinds of business pattern languages exemplified by the RosettaNet and UBL (Universal Business Language) initiatives.

In the past these ideas seemed abstract and arcane to me, and to some extent they still do, but after reading the book and discussing it with Bob I have a much more concrete sense of what they are and how they apply to the real world. Towards the end of our conversation I asked Bob what it's like to think in those terms and to design information systems accordingly. He replied:

What I always tell people is, you're out there at the Home Depot warehouse picking up the stuff you just bought. Close your eyes and say, let me make the buildings go away, and the people go away, and the trucks go away, and just think about who is exchanging information with whom, and what does the message say, what does it mean. Forget the physical implementation and try to focus on the abstraction that business information is being exchanged among parties for some purpose.

That's a nice way to talk about a process that's abstract, but solidly grounded in reality.

Former URL: http://weblog.infoworld.com/udell/2006/07/21.html#a1491