Silos

By | 2003/11/09

Tim Bray just chimed in on the whole Shirky issue, and is pretty much bang-on again. I’m not going to talk about that issue though, but I wanted to discuss something Tim brought up, XBRL. He wrote;

Of course, if companies as a matter of routine posted XBRL versions of their financials at addresses like data.ibm.com and data.renault.com and data.hsbc.com and data.daimler-chrysler.com, a huge amount of time and money would be saved. And you’d have taken some useful steps towards a machine-processable web.

I think he’s right there, mostly. In the case of a bunch of XBRL/HTTP agents (or indeed any data format and HTTP), you have a machine processable system, and a pretty darned useful one too; I’m not trying to diminish the value that would provide at all by these comments. But it’s just a system, one that doesn’t have anything to do with (i.e. has no way to integrate with) any other HTTP based system. It’s a silo.

Where we really want to get to, is to do away with silos entirely. The Web solved the “protocol/interface silo” problem (though many still don’t recognize that). Now, phase two will aim to solve the “data silo” problem (which the example above is a case of). I don’t know if it will work or not, but we’ve got the right team on the job IMO.

BTW, I also liked Tim’s comments about betting against TimBL, and “shooting fish in a barrel”. It reminds me of an earlier blog entry I made about Jeremy Allaire, and indirectly Adam Bosworth, saying that TimBL was “on another planet”. Heh, right.

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