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David Loshin

Welcome to my BeyeNETWORK Blog. This is going to be the place for us to exchange thoughts, ideas and opinions on all aspects of the information quality and data integration world. I intend this to be a forum for discussing changes in the industry, as well as how external forces influence the way we treat our information asset. The value of the blog will be greatly enhanced by your participation! I intend to introduce controversial topics here, and I fully expect that reader input will "spice it up." Here we will share ideas, vendor and client updates, problems, questions and, most importantly, your reactions. So keep coming back each week to see what is new on our Blog!

About the author >

David is the President of Knowledge Integrity, Inc., a consulting and development company focusing on customized information management solutions including information quality solutions consulting, information quality training and business rules solutions. Loshin is the author of The Practitioner's Guide to Data Quality Improvement, Master Data Management, Enterprise Knowledge Management: The Data Quality Approachand Business Intelligence: The Savvy Manager's Guide. He is a frequent speaker on maximizing the value of information. David can be reached at or at (301) 754-6350.

Editor's Note: More articles and resources are available in David's BeyeNETWORK Expert Channel. Be sure to visit today!

Recently in Reflections Category

I am stepping a bit out of my area of comfort to reflect on some thoughts regarding today's inauguration pomp and circumstances. Last night I was leafing through James Surowiecki's The Wisdom of Crowds
(which is a really good book, I highly recommend it) and a passage described criticism of the United States' early concepts of democracy in which Europeans mocked the notion that the general public was empowered to vote for and elect the leaders of the nation. But, contrary to this haughty noble's opinion, the power vested in the people by the United States Constitution not only has withstood the test of time, it, along with the Bill of Rights and the other accumulated amendments have allowed this glorious experiment in "forming a more perfect union" to thrive.

This day we experienced the transition of one presidency to another. Although the context of President Obama's assuming the nation's highest office is historic, while I watched the new president taking the oath of office, there were tears in my eyes. This was not just because of today's history, but it was compounded by the simple fact that I, along with every other citizen, live in a place where our constitutional rights allow us to make the creation of history a reality.
And in the spirit of patriotism that we all share on this inauguration day, it is each and every American citizen's duty to exercise those constitutional rights:

- To freely practice the religion of your choice;
- To not just speak freely, but scream loudly when criticism is warranted, (or even if it is not!)
- To a free press that demands transparency from those elected few who lead our nation, as well as those millions who willingly serve the nation as employees in the public sector; and
- To join with others in a peaceable assembly to exercise these rights.

There are people who wish to quiet those who criticize the office of the president. But recall what George Washington said: "If the freedom of speech is taken away then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter." And to those people willing to yield any part of their liberties to the government in the name of security, the sixth amendment to the constitutional grants the right for people to be "secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures." Recall the words of Benjamin Franklin: "Any society that would give up a little liberty to gain a little security will deserve neither and lose both."

There have been many changes in our collective lives over the years of the previous administration - turmoil, pain, loss, growth, success, failure, more success, even greater failure. Times not only change, but the speed of change seems to increase as well. Hopefully our new leaders will apply consideration and thoughtfulness as they plan programs to move us all forward into the future.

Posted January 20, 2009 8:36 PM
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For some reason, I have acquired a habit of buying books at the airport. It could be that due to some lingering guilt about limitations on my personal productivity as I spend time getting from one place to another, I feel compelled to buy books that have some business relevance to read at the gate while waiting for all the business class and premier travelers to board the airplane.

I am finding, though, that I am building up an interesting set of books that provide value to the way I look at the use of information, so I thought I'd share a list of books that I have recently read, am currently reading, or plan to read some time in the near future. Each one deals with aspects of how we can learn from what we know, learn from what we don't know, then exploit what we can learn:

"The Wisdom of Crowds," by James Surowiecki
"Freakanomics, " by Steven Leavitt and Stephen Dubner
"The Tipping Point," by Malcolm Gladwell
"Blink," by Malcolm Gladwell
"The Black Swan," by Nassim Nicholas Taleb
"Fooled by Randomness," by Nassim Nicholas Taleb
"The Long Tail," by Chris Anderson
"Fortune's Formula," by William Poundstone
"Linked," by Albert-Laszlo Barabasi
"The World is Flat," by Thomas Friedman
"Collapse," by Jared Diamond

Posted March 7, 2008 12:37 PM
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Today is the 50th anniversary of the lego block, and an interesting side note is that Lego's Mindstorm product line is one of the few commercial successes of the Logo programming language.

Posted January 28, 2008 5:59 AM
Permalink | No Comments | my inventory of business cards is starting to run low, I am considering reprinting them, but I am now posed with a little bit of a quandary. Two years ago when that most recent batch was designed, I considered the contact information I wanted to include: name, company address, telephone, fax, mobile phone, email, web address.

However, in the past few years, my contact avenues have slightly changed – consider the blog that you are now reading. This made me start to think about all the other aspects of contact that might be reasonable to present to a new business acquaintance:

- Skype contact information
- Blogs
- Linkedin
- Myspace
- Facebook
- plus whatever other interesting things are out there...

Then all of a sudden, I started to think about being able to present someone with additional information aside from contact data, such as white papers or powerpoint presentations. Then links to webinars, podcasts, youtube videos. Can you get all this stuff on a business card?

OK, so I brought this up in a recent conversation with Shawn Rogers, mentioning that I wanted to consider options for having a USB business card – printed with standard contact information and with additional material accessible via the USB memory card interface. Unfortunately, I am a little early for that – the technology is still maturing and is prone to not work in many cases.

Shawn’s response was interesting: first, he referred to an emerging protocol for putting traditional contact information on the front and additional content links on the back of the card, and that is certainly a viable option. But then he said that for most purposes, a traditional business card was sufficient for its intent: first line of contact. Secondary lines of contact or “web 2.0”-ish information is appropriate within its own context. So leave the blog address off the physical card, but embed it in your email signature (which I already do).

Here is what I may do: make use of one of my registered domain addresses to host a virtual contact web page and have all my “push” content accessible through that page. Then I can put that web address on the back of the business card for people to access all that additional information.

Oh, and by the way, here is my (very simple) online business card.

Posted December 20, 2007 9:39 AM
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I noticed the other day looking in the sunday newspaper circulars that one could purchase a 500Gig hard drive for about $150.00. In other words, you could pay a little more than three hundred bucks and have a terabyte of hard drive space in your desktop machine. Considering that some enterprise data warehouses only grow at a rate of 200-500 gigabytes a year means that (presuming I didn't expect to have a significant user load, I had simple reporting requirements, and have good enough data transfer capabilities) I could assemble a pretty capable data warehouse for limited reporting on a machine that might (overall) cost less than a few thousand dollars.

Would anyone want to do this? Probably not your Fortune 100 folks, but it is indicative of the way that we are poised to enable and deploy business intelligence to the medium and even small business constituency. Consider (in addition) the fact that most commonly used BI tool is Microsoft Excel, and now all of a sudden we have the potential for a "break-out" business in turn-key BI. What do you think?

Posted October 20, 2007 8:13 PM
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I got back from TDWI in San Diego last week the other day, after teaching two courses. The first was on Business RUles, then second on Data Standards. I am glad that both courses were put together on the same day, since there is definitely a dependence of the business rules process on standardized definitions and data. Therefore, seeing a large number of the same people in both classes was a relief, and the connections between the two were borne out by some of the examples discussed by the attendees, in which the development of rules was impeded by the absence of standardized object definitions. Overall, the classes went well, and I would like to expand out the business rules course to include a demonstration or example using an open source framework. I am checking them out now - please post any suggestions!

Other highlights:
- Podcasting with the B-Eye guys. Tuesday afternoon I got to speak with Daryl Orts from Noetix, John Senor from iWay, Martin Query of Zoomix, Rich Zbylut from TDWI and Shawn Rogers from B-Eye, and Lisa Dreyer from Sybase.
- Interesting swag from Informatica - these two strong magnets that make interesting noices when thrown together. My kids think they are pretty cool, but the noise annoys my wife, since it sounds like the dreaded crickets in our basement. I was also briefed on their technology by Don Tirsell.
- Neat side trip to the Barona casino, about 25 minutes from downtown San Diego.
- I heard a great talk on predictive analytics by Wayne Eckerson.

Overall, was a very good trip.

Posted August 27, 2007 8:34 AM
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Just finished reading Shawn's latest blog entry referring to the Computer World article on IT people who mattered. It made me start thinking about my own list of key IT people

Too bad they limited this list the way they did. I can think of a bunch more influential IT people whom I am sure most people have never heard of. Here is a list - google away:

Nathan Goodman - influential researcher who collaborated on the aspects of database transaction synchronization. His work largely contributed to the ability to serialize database transactions, thereby enabling the effective multi-transaction use of databases possible. Later became a founding member of MIT's Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research.

Leslie Lamport - algorithmist extreme, his insights on coordination between computers within a connected distributed system paved the way for the development of concurrent and parallel programming.

Steve Warshall - Influential participant in the National Software Works, the BBN project that led to the development of the Internet.

John Backus - The IBM pioneer that led the development of FORTRAN.

Got to get back to work - more to follow.

Posted July 10, 2007 7:01 AM
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Thinking the other day about telephone terms still in use that are essentially out of date or no longer mean what was originally intended. For some reason, there seem to be a recognizable set associated with the telecommunications world:

1) Dial (n) - the round thing with holes in it that used to spin around when you stuck your finger in it and moved it around its center point. Today, some novelty phones have simlated dials with touch-tone buttons where the holes should be. ("There is no 'x' on the dial")

2) Dial (v) - the action of coding a sequence of numbers by sticking your finger in a dial (n) and spinning it around. ("I am going to dial the telephone number you gave me.")

3) Area code (n) - A three-digit number indicating the geographic origination point of a telephone network connection. ("212 is the area code for New York City").

4) Ring (v) - the sounding of a bell triggered by an electronic pulse coming through the wires indicating that a connection is being attempted.

With new IP voice services that use your computer's microphone and head set interfaces, the concept of a connection address being called a "telephone number" is even suspect.

This makes me wonder a little more: I use these terms because that was what I learned when I first used these machines, but as the technology changes, does the lingo remain the same because of ubiquity, or will it eventually die out after a few generations when someone realizes those terms are meaningless within the technical context?

Posted June 7, 2007 6:52 PM
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Last week I saw this news item about Google's providing search capability for US patents. Just another example where enterprise search can expose greater value of archived information when it is presented in an easy to use manner.

By the way, as of today, the name "loshin" appears in 97 hits on the patent database. Many are for an apparently unrelated person involved in transformation and display of digital information, a few refer to my non-cousin Optics expert David S. Loshin, some have references to some of my books, but most refer to my brother's books and articles on TCP/IP.

Quick comment: patents are not limited to purely new ideas, but are largely improvements on ideas that someone else has already patented. So does exposing the information in patents enable greater innovation because it is easier to find patented things to improve, or does it stifle it because the availabilit of extensive information on what has already been done discourages new ways of thinking?

Posted June 3, 2007 10:33 PM
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At the recent DAMA International/Meta-Data conference in Boston, one of the keynote speakers, Don Tapscott, spoke about the concept (and topic of his new book) of "Wikinomics," focusing on the value of mass collaboration through the electronic medium to develop more effective and value-added economics to worldwide businesses (ok, I am simplifying a bit, but it was a long talk). One of the points he raised was the value of self-organization, especially when it came to oversight, such as the kind provided when numerous consumers are able to post their opinions of products, services, etc. The upshot was that businesses would be forced to improve their {products, services, support, etc.} because the masses would be able to expose deficiencies to the public, putting competitiveness at risk. (Actually, he said a lot of things, and I am actually paraphrasing, but that's one thing I got out of it.)

Interestingly (and I guess coincidentally), on March 16, the Washington Post presented an article about what appears to be a planned "system gaming" of ebay. A large part of the framework is based on trust, characterized in terms of positive experiences (either in buying or selling). of course, the implication is that the better your ratings, the more trustworthy you are, and therefore the more reliable you can be predicted to be in terms of fulfilling the transaction.

According to the the article, though, what some sellers do is create an image of trustworthiness over time and then transition into fraudsters. The way they do it is by picking a relatively small-scale item to sell - in the article the profiled seller marketed digital camera memory cards. After a time of successful transactions and corresponding positive reports, the seller has created a sterling reputation. At that point, the seller switches to a high-ticket item (e.g., digital video cameras). The high ratings attract many buyers, who purchase the item, only to receive empty camera bags or nothing at all. The seller then disappears - no response to emails or phone calls.

So, going back to Don Tapscott's premise, one might consider the dark side of mass interaction - that the collaborative environment might also be exploited to create the illusion of value, when in fact it delivers the exact opposite. Any reactions?

Posted March 19, 2007 7:13 AM
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