Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Your Pipe Inventory Record is not a Pipe

In this blog, I recently posted: Reality is the System of Record. Unfortunately, I just found a lost reminder to myself about a really good introductory example to use. Even though it didn't make it into the original post, it seems worth mentioning here anyway...

La trahison des images is a famous painting by Magritte which seems to pose a riddle.  It contains nothing but a pipe and the phrase, "This is not a pipe". However, it only seems enigmatic because the solution is too obvious.

As Art critic Robert Hughes explains in The Shock of the New, "This, indeed, is not a pipe. It is a painting; a work of art; a sign that denotes an object and triggers memory". As Magritte himself once remarked, "Of course it's not a pipe. Just try to fill it with tobacco".

In other words, it is a representation of a pipe, not to be mistaken for an actual one. And as obvious as that seems, computer system developers make the same mistake all the time. They do so when they forget that their Customer data table & business domain objects are not actual customers, but only representations, i.e. memories, i.e. copies of information.  So, as with all cached copies of external data, it is the duty of your so-called "system of record" to keep in sync with the real customer, in the real world, because Reality is the System of Record.

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