Data, The Ugly Stepsister of Web 2.0

The basket of technology comprising Web 2.0 is a wonderful thing and worthy of all of the press and commentary it receives, but what really scares me is the state of data in this new world.  Data sits in the basement of this wonderful technology edifice, ugly, dirty, surrounded by squalor, and chained in place.  It is much more fun to just buy the next storage array (disk is cheap, infinite, what power bill?), than it is to grind though it, clean it up, validate it, ensure proper governance and ontology.

What is Web 2.0 for, if not to expose more content? And data is the ultimate content.  Knowing what is hiding in the basement, there are going to be a lot of embarrassed organizations (Lucy, you got some ‘splaining to do!).  Imagine how difficult it is going to be to link and synchronize content and data in the Web 2.0 environment.  Imagine explaining the project delays and failures of Web 2.0 initiatives when the beast in the basement gets a grip on them.

Normally, the technology will be blamed.  Nobody wants to admit they store the corporate crown jewels in the local landfill.  Nobody will buy the new products fast enough.  The server farms being built to support Cloud Computing will sit spinning and melting Arctic Ice in vain (Microsoft’s container-based approach is cool).  This could seriously impact the market capitalization of our top tech giants Microsoft, Oracle, Google, Amazon.  Oh no! It could crash the stock market and bring on tech and financial Armageddon given our weakened state!  Even worse, my own career is at stake!  The devil with them, they are all rolling in money, I could starve!

Now that I have my inner chimp back in the box, we need to put together a mitigation strategy to allow for a steady phased improvement of the data situation in tandem with Web 2.0 initiatives.  It is too much to expect anybody to clean up the toxic data dump in one sitting and we can not tag Web 2.0 with the entire bill from years of neglect (just toss it in the basement, no one goes there).  If we do not ask IT to own up to the issue and instead allow projects to fail, senior management, (fade to The Office), will assume the technology is at fault and will not allocate the resources needed to make this key technological transition.

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