Sunday, June 25, 2006

Usable interoperability

The IEEE directory describes inter-operability as

The ability of two or more systems or components to exchange information and to use the information that has been exchanged.

Well, if we take that definition into the human communication space, we could say that speech allow a good level of “protocol” level inter-operability. When we add the knowledge of a language, then we can exchange and hopefully make use of well-formatted (syntax) and meaningful (semantics) messages. What is in my opinion a little flawed in the IEEE definition is the part about usage of the received information. I believe inter-operability does not have a meaning outside the scope of a particular application domain.

In my previous post, I stated why I do not find great interest in the SIMPLE/XMPP “inter-operability” draft proposal. To re-enforce my previous position, I would say the draft describes proper messages syntax, even a beginning of shared semantic between the two protocols, but completely fail to put the inter-operability in context. Without the intimate knowledge of a shared human language, one can receive the perfectly valid speech flow without being able to use it. A bit similar to listening an opera where a Spanish tenor and an Italian diva sing in Russian. They exchange perfect syntax and semantic but with a limited use, mainly providing marks for the other to respond. Don’t you think we may be missing, like the spectator of the opera, a great part of the meaning?

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