Relational Structure & Root Language
RS and RL are acronyms for Relational Structure and Root Language. RS deals with the form while RL deals with the process of computer systems. RS is a theory and technology to handle the computer storage of an organization’s data. RL is a theory and technology to handle the computer programs which are used to process data.
RS and RL are an application of the axioms of “A Relational Paradigm.....Patterns for Change.” The theory and emergent technology of RS/RL are an attempt to implement as well as to validate and refine the axioms of the relational paradigm. Axioms cannot be verified by logic alone since logic itself is based on the axioms. A major test of any paradigm is the theories and technologies which can be developed using its axioms.
A basic belief in the development of the relational paradigm and of RS/RL is that there are generic patterns, deep structures, or kernels that underlie all forms and processes in our world. RS/RL identifies generic patterns of how data is structured and used in an organization.
The concept of RS is that if the data and information used by an organization are structured according to a predetermined kernel, then the same structure can be used to represent the unique models of any specific organization. Likewise the same structure can be used to generate alternative models within an organization, thereby greatly increasing the organization’s flexibility and adaptability. Many of the requests for information can be processed directly by the user without going through the “high priests” of the system.
RL is the generic patterns of computer languages. If the computer programs used in an organization utilize RL then the logic of the program can be more effectively developed, maintained and understood, and program segments can be more easily used in different situations.
A fundamental shift in orientation of the relational paradigm from the existing paradigm is in the relationship between people and systems. In our existing paradigm, systems take precedence over people. We are taught how the system operates, and we learn to adapt.
In the relational paradigm, the system can adapt to the individual as well as the individual to the system. The users of the system are in a position to control rather than simply respond to the system. With RS/RL an individual can make his own models and generate his own reports using his own language. Systems are to be used rather than to be served.
Another way to state this orientation shift is that people take precedence over bureaucracies. The bureaucracy should serve the people rather than people serve the bureaucracy. Rather than, “Fill out this form and get in line,” the response would be, “Who are you and how can I help?”
In education the shift would be from the memorization of models to learning the basic concepts of how the models work. In our existing educational paradigm the injunction is, “If you want to know this, do this.” The injunction in the relational paradigm would be, “If you want to understand this, use these.”
In business the shift would be to orient the organization’s products and services to the needs of the customer. It is a shift from advertising to marketing. Rather than trying to convince customers what they want, you ask customers what they need.
The implementation of RS/RL makes this shift possible. With existing technologies the models are difficult to change, and as a result the capabilities required to respond to individual requests are simply not available. The flexible modeling inherent in RS/RL allows an organization to respond to these individual requests from both employees and customers. RS/RL provides the environment to support the automation of customer specified products and services.
RS allows users to make their own models using a common set of data. A current example of the ability to make your own model is the spread sheet software packages available on the personal computers. Spread sheets gave individuals the capability to make their own planning models. This personal modeling capability was one of the major factors contributing to the growth of the PC industry. RS extends this capability from planning models to control as well as operational models.
A major additional capability provided by RS which is not currently available is the access and use of common data for the modeling process. With the spread sheet software on PCs, individuals could make their own planning models but they were also forced to generate their own data. RS makes the common data and information of the organization available to everyone who has qualified access.
RL does for computer processing what RS does for the data. RL gives the individual control over the language. Rather than the memorization of existing languages, individuals would have access to a grammar and dictionary which they could use to write their own language.
Historically the control of language has been a major consort of empire, whether the colonial empire of Great Britain and Spain, the religious empire of the Catholic church, or the industrial empire of IBM and Microsoft.
A current example of this control of language can be taken from the software on personal computers. To use personal computers we are required to memorize complex and arbitrary mental models encoded in the various software packages. I personally have memorized and used the details for over 100 computer languages; however, this past store of knowledge is of little help and sometimes actually a hindrance in learning a new language. It’s as if I have had to memorize “Moby Dick,” “Alice in Wonderland,” and “War and Peace” rather than being taught how to write.
A significant and growing percentage of time spent using computers is in the memorization of new software languages rather than in actually performing any type of productive work. As soon as you become competent in a language, the program is upgraded, improved and the old is made obsolete. In our current economic system the very survival of software companies depends upon the obsolescence of existing programs. Microsoft must control the language of PCs if it is to continue to grow and prosper in the existing economic system.
RS/RL allows individuals to have shared control over the models and languages which they use. The axioms of the relational paradigm imply that there would be a balance between the individual and the system—between the one and the many. In our existing paradigm the models and languages are dominated by the system.
This shift in control cannot be accomplished without a change in paradigm. The widespread use of RS/RL would require significant change in companies which are operating effectively under the existing economic system. In addition, the use of RS/RL would change the relationship between individuals and the various systems within which they live.
A valid question from the context of the existing paradigm is, if everyone can make his or her own model, what keeps the system together? Within the existing paradigm, everyone making his own model would be the equivalent of chaos or anarchy.
The glue which holds the system together is the paradigm itself. The axioms and basic patterns or kernel of the paradigm must be held in common. If you do not have a common set of axioms, there is no way to arrive at a consensus or common understanding.
With the breakdown of our existing paradigm, there are many current examples of the problems resulting from the use of alternative axioms. One example is the inability of the environmentalists to effectively communicate with existing industrial or agricultural groups. Our existing agriculture and industrial systems use a different set of premises than those used by the environmentalists. As a result there is simply no way that the two groups can arrive at a consensus or even a compromise. If you start from a different set of axioms or building blocks, you cannot arrive at a common model.
Within the context of an organization, the glue which holds the system together is that everyone must use the same data within the structure of the generic patterns of RS/RL. You can have your own opinions or models, but you cannot have your own data. If two parties are using a different set of data or facts, there is no way that they can agree or even compromise. Listening to debates on the MacNeil-Lehrer News Hour on PBS will provide abundant examples of the inability to reach resolution when the parties start with different data.
In addition to common data, there must be consensus as to the purpose or intent of the system. The individuals within a system can have their personal goals, but they must share a common purpose with others in the system. Within the context of the United States of America, the Declaration of Independence serves as the statement of purpose, and the Constitution is the kernel under which the country operates.
To summarize, RS/RL is:
|Home • Overview • Patterns of Relational Paradigm • Relational Organization • Relational Structure & Root Language • Contact|