Epiphanies

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I've had several epiphanies in the 12 months or so. I don't know how it is for other people, but the way my thinking evolves is that I've got some inexpressible "thought clouds" going around in my head for months that I can't really get on paper or talk about in any coherent way. And then, at some point, there's some catalyst and "bang", it all comes together and suddenly those clouds start raining ideas and my thinking very rapidly goes through an actual paradigm shift.

The first important epiphany occurred when Arvindra gave me a compact explanation of his very pragmatic view on Agent Technology and Queueing Networks, which booted the FABRIQ effort. Once I saw what Arvindra had done in his previous projects and I put that together with my thinking about services, a lot of things clicked. The insight that formed from there was that RPC'ish request/response interactions are very restrictive exceptions in a much larger picture where one-way messages and much more complex message flow-patterns possibly involving an arbitrary number of parties are the norm.

The second struck me while on stage in Amsterdam and during the "The Nerd, The Suit, and the Fortune Teller" play as Pat and myself were discussing Service Oriented User Interaction. (You need to understand that we had very limited time for preparation and hence we had a good outline, but the rest of the script essentially said "go with the flow" and so most of it was pure improvisation theater). The insight that formed can (with all due respect) be shortened "the user is just another service". Not only users shall drive the interaction by issuing messages (commands) to a systems for which they expect one or more out of a set of possible replies, but there should also be a way how systems can be drive an interaction by issuing messages to users expecting one or more out of a set of possible replies. There is no good reason why any of these two directions of driving the interaction should receive preferred treatment. There is no client and there is no server. There are just roles in interactions. That moment, the 3-layer/3-tier model of building applications died a quick and painless death in my head. I think I have a new one, but the clouds are still raining ideas. Too early for details. Come back and ask in a few months.

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