Friday, February 11, 2005

Isomorphism and SOAs

Unless you're a software geek this link wont make a lot of sense but if you are and you ever struggle with communicating complex ideas, I think you will appreciate Steve Maine's fine post about service-oriented architectures. I'm not embroiled enough in SOAs to have a strong opinion about the validity of the conclusions but the clarity of the arguments make it worth reading regardless.

For a while now, I've had this gut feeling that the move toward service-orientation represented the postmodern evolution of software development, but could never really put my finger on why this was the case until a few minutes ago. It has to do with the idea that the canonical form is just another equivalent representation of an isomorphic system. The fact that the canonical form is canonical doesn't mean it's somehow "better" or "more accurate" than any of its isomorphic brethren - it's not special just because it's canonical. For example, the fact that Big Ben is not the canonical form of a 'timepiece' does not mean that Big Ben is any less of a timepiece than, say, a wristwatch. Specifically (and this is where philosophy comes in), the canonical form is not some neo-Platonic idealized representation of a 'thing' that all the other 'things' are aspiring to be. Its canonical nature arises by convention, not from some inner philosophical superiority. The recognition that the canonical form is on equal footing ontologically with all of its isomorphisms is a rejection of the modern neo-Platonic ideal; hence, the postmodern substitution of 'truth' for the much fuzzier idea of 'constructed convention'. I may be stretching this but it seems to make sense to me
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