Monday, December 3, 2007

Book Review for Mike Daconta's new book

Couple months ago, I agreed to review my esteemed colleague Michael (Mike) Daconta's new book Information As Product. I liked Mike Daconta's previous book called The Semantic Web. The Semantic Web was a great book and it basically laid out the history of the semantic web, described the benefits of semantic Web and described the vision of the semantic Web. This book was my passport into the world of ontologies, data modeling and understanding the importance of data. I have also had the privilege of working with Mr. Daconta on couple of DHS projects and I believe he is truly a visionary in data management.

The biggest knocks against Mike Daconta in the industry is that he is a "dreamer" and he has not been able to deliver his dreams into substance. I believe Mike is a visionary and people like him are essential in IT innovation. He offers ideas which address actual business problems and it is up to engineers to formulate the ideas into reality.

His new book Information As Product follows this pattern. In the book, Mike offers a solution of producing Information as a product which comes out of a "Information" factory line and it is appropriate information for the appropriate person and it is delivered in the appropriate time. The book presents a general solution to a problem plaguing various enterprises. The problem is that there is a temporal and semantic gap between information consumers and producers. The book does a great job of describing the concepts involved with this idea however no system analyst and architect can decompose this book into functional and non-functional requirements to build a system which will make concepts in this book a reality. Mike states in his book that the book Information As Product is the first book in a series of books which will engage its readers in a dialogue on how information systems can be improved.

The things I liked in the book are:
  • easy to read
  • presenting the ideal information management system as a factory line where information can be packaged in a package
  • I loved the way he describes packaging up the information. I believe this idea can implemented
I wish he expanded these concepts better in this book:
  • the importance of metadata, selecting the right metadata and consequences of poor metadata management
  • The DIKW (Data-Information-Knowledge-Wisdom) pyramid - It is only a conceptual model. I would love to see how metadata fits in this pyramid.
  • He lost me in couple of parts otherwise it is not a bad book.
In summary, if you want to build a system from this book then I recommend that you don't buy this book. If, on the other hand, you are looking at data management solutions for your enterprise then this is a great book since enterprise level functional requirements can be derived from this book. I, personally, enjoyed reading the book however I was left with more questions than answers.
Links to buy the Information As Product book.

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