Rethinking Zachman – a tweak on 'time'

Another perhaps-not-so-minor tweak in rethinking the Zachman columns. My mistake: should have spotted it earlier.

Seems that Zachman’s labelling of the ‘When’ column as ‘Time’ is a bit like his description of the ‘Who’ column as ‘People’ – it’s ‘obvious’, ‘intuitive’, clearly right from a common-sense perspective, but unfortunately it’s subtly and dangerously wrong for the taxonomy.

Time is actually a location – a coordinate or ‘Where’. A marker on the time-coordinate can be a source of an Event (the taxonomy content for ‘When’) but is not itself the primary content for the ‘When’ column.

It’s possible to argue that time is an asset – i.e. a ‘What’ – but it doesn’t really work: it’s sort-of a measurable ‘thing’, but it’s not directly linked to the enterprise as all assets are. Describing it as a coordinate is more useful, and probably more accurate, not least because given a trajectory – i.e. a function or ‘How’, based on a rule, a ‘Why’ – it’s possible to calculate location in time from physical position, and vice-versa.

(Incidentally, that trajectory-calculation illustrates well the different categories of ‘Decision’ in the ‘Why’ column. In a simplistic school-level version of a Newtonian world the location-versus-time calculation is a single-factor rule-based function; in a more realistic version of Newtonian physics there are many more analytic factors that need to be taken into account, such as wind-speed, the rotation of the earth and so on; at quantum levels we’re more reliant on heuristics and patterns to guide the estimate; whilst in a chaotic world we rely on principles, or perhaps prayer! 🙂 )

Still struggling somewhat to get all of this out of the academic and into practical use, but it feels like it is coming together. Slowly.

More later, anyway.

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