all bits considered data to information to knowledge


Just-in-Time vs. Just-in-Case Information

The term Just-in-Time information has been around for quite awhile... It has been used in various contexts - ad-hoc BI dashboards, personal and corporate time management technique, career/life organizing principles and so on; I am rather sure that there will be more domains where JIT Information will enter in the future as both data and information become increasingly liberated.

I blogged about evolution of our information consumption patterns following my observation on how my son interacts with the outside world - smartphone, laptop, facebook, twitter, google+, youtube - endless stream of seemingly superfluous data in constantly changing contexts... seems like a perfect recipe for chaos. Yet somehow they manage to stay on-track, graduate from schools, and go about their lives. I maintain that ubiquitous easily accessible data will be the main driver of the next evolutionary cycle, and, as Yogi Berra used to say, the future is not what it used to be...

This leads me to an observation in a more predictable and controlled environment - that of databases, relational and otherwise. I can't help but notice uncanny parallels in evolution of the electronic data storage and retrieval systems with that of paper-based storage and retrieval systems (yes, a fancy name for the ordinary "book"). A database, or - more specifically - data warehouse, came into existence when data was scarce, and data access was slow, expensive and unreliable; most of the data stored in a given data warehouse stays dormant for years, rarely - if ever - accessed; I would dub this model "Just-in-Case" information.

As these challenges get addressed there is a shift underway from centralized data warehouse to federated to ad-hoc models. The Raw Data movement has already started - in many scenarios the no need to hoard data, all one needs to know is where to find relevant data (one can imagine ever higher level of hierarchies - directories of directories of directories... meta-meta-meta+n data ).

Proliferation of NoSQL databases, the concept of "Big Data" - are all part of this shift towards "Just-in-Time" information, data freed from the shackles of  schemas and structure... A piece of advice - cast thy data upon the waters: for thou shalt find it after many days   (adapted after Ecclesiastes 11:1  🙂