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Try a search on A9, an Amazon company. With some Google, some Alexa, and a bit of personal history under the hood. Go ahead an try it now. It will save you having to read a lot of magazine articles over the next several months.

We're only four days away from the 98th anniversary of the San Francisco earthquake, the one with Clark Gable and Jeanette MacDonald, the event we locals call "The Big One.".

Arrow marks The Hearst Building at 3rd & Market Sts.

For years, I worked in The Hearst Building, where Citizen Kane printed the San Francisco Examiner. In fact, I've ridden out several subsequent quakes there. But in 1906, the building was dynamited by the Army in a futile attempt to save the Palace Hotel, the grandest hotel west of the Mississippi, just down Market Street.

In earthquakes, rigid buildings crack; flexible buildings ride it through. Wooden houses hold up a lot better than brick ones. If you're expecting things to be shaken up, geologically or commercially, pick a structure that will roll with the punches. All of which brings me to a topic that I keep bumping into: loosely coupled.

Rigid structures can't adapt.

The next model of computing, Service-Orinted Architecture or "bottom-up" computing, relies on software "agents," little bots that interact with one another. Software agents carry markers that identify how they might work with one another and what they mean. It's a replay of the Semantic Web, the web of meaning. but this time around, it's inside the firewall. Smart software bots can carry out programs without a programmer. When a few agents change, they plug right back into the system. They adapt. It's not like the old days, when one hard-wired glitch could shut down the entire show. Because you can hot-swap software agents and let them seek their own connections, we say they are "loosely coupled."

Volatile times are pushing businesses to redefine themselves as collections of loosely-coupled webs of business processes. As in an earthquake or the next-generation computing environment, a foundation that gives when stressed and continues to function while new components are introduced adapts well to changing conditions.


People prefer loosely-coupled situations, too. I've given up on three-bullet points per page, arrogant PowerPoint presentations. It's insulting when someone tries to jam their dogma into your head without honoring your need to reflect. Whenever something smacks of "My way or the highway," I'm out the door with my thumb out. Don't try to handcuff me into your hardwired thinking. I go with the flow and strive to be maintain my adaptability.

Psychologist Robert Ornstein likens the human mind to "a band of simpletons." There's no grand master calling the shots from some command center deep inside the brain. More often, it's the drunken monkeys we call consciousness at work, and they gave up on control long ago. The monkeys are easily tricked or diverted, but they can bounce back as persistently as crab grass.

As my loosely coupled mind wandered around in this issue, I returned to A9 and entered "loosely coupled." I was delighted to find a familar site in the number two position: Australian Flexible Learning.

There's no longer "one best way." In this case, there are five.

Posted by Jay Cross at April 14, 2004 09:58 PM | TrackBack


Posted by: flüge münchen at July 9, 2004 01:54 PM

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