History

So, where did this idea derive from? I will start from the end, and go back and forth- you can skip this section, if you are just interested in the conceptual or technical design of the solution.

The background? On the technical side, since the mid-1990s along with proprietary-database Decision Support Systems I was also using or designing data warehouses or datamarts with the typical “star schema”, and working with more than half a dozen different Business Intelligence and datamart/datawarehousing design tool, while between the late 1980s and late 1990s I also designed and delivered methodologies.

Yes, in the 1980s my first software development activities in high school were actually aiming at sharing solutions and masking complexity- specifically, the first piece of software I sold was to solve equations graphically on a Sinclair ZX Spectrum (search Wikipedia, if curious about the technology) in BASIC, before then shifting to PROLOG and then to PASCAL.

As I had seen in my prior personal interests in studying cultures (archeology, languages, BNF, cultural anthropology), practicising and studying politics in two languages (eventually added to Italian and French also English) while still in high school.

Why did I start toying with computers at 14-15 (first test: Fortran IV on an IBM 360 with punched-card input), in the late 1970s to early 1980s? Because I was interested in “electronic brains”, after having been interested in both natural brains (read few books), cultural anthropology, architecture, archeology- and anything related to transmission of knowledge.

Then, applied those concepts when I delivered computer training as a volunteer during my compulsory services in the Italian Army in 1985-1986 (I proposed, designed, and delivered the course, and coached other teachers).

I was lucky enough, in the late 1980s, for my Decisions Support Systems activities for Andersen in Italy, to work across all the industries and domains covered by Andersen, and to have access to their project library.

If you consider that by that time I had played with classification and book archival systems for 15 years (library at home, using libraries around, re-classification of files in the Army, working in spare time at the Army barracks library), my “technological” experience listed above (BNF, PROLOG, studying cultures and classifying artefacts or books) was useful to connect few dots.

Oh, yes, and as a teenager I also was active in politics in a couple of languages, earned some money as a “ghostwriter in sedicesimo”, sold used books, computers, videogames.

Over the last few decades, all those experiences done when I had time as a teeneager were repeatedly useful, but created the need to “optimize” also retrieval of ideas, solutions, concepts that could be used to speed up solving new issues.

Yes, because the concepts underlying old techniques can also be used to solve new issues- provided that you remember that having access to a specific set of expert skills or knowledge does not imply trying to use them, except when relevant.

And provided that you never forget that whatever you design has to balance different sets of needs for different “audiences”.

I do not consider myself “technical”, i.e. expert, in anything except change and negotiations.

For everything else, learned if and when needed, looked for experts, and involved them- whatever my official role was.

Try having a storage of experiences accumulated across industries, countries, technologies for over 30 years: deciding what you must keep up-to-date and what you should delegate are just a couple of the issues, more important is retaining the ability to retrieve and reuse, including by keeping your knowledge network alive, and reassess continuously what is worth (re)learning and updating.

All that was based anyway on the concept of “filtering” complexity, to enable leveraging on few expert resources (whatever their expertise- including sales people), so that many could actually have access to the knowledge of few.

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