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Deletion and the blind sweeper

This post is part of my research on highly-evolvable enterprise architectures.  It is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 license.  I am indebted to Jay Dvivedi for sharing with me the ideas developed here.  All errors are my own.

One challenge in designing enterprise systems is how to think about the deletion of records.  I discussed the issue with Jay yesterday, and he had several suggestions.

First, to prevent fraud, sabotage and accidents, the ability to delete records should restricted to a very small group of senior personnel or forbidden entirely.  When a person attempts to delete a record, the system should required approval from another person.

Second, the system must be designed to cleanse itself of unneeded records that contain potentially damaging confidential information.  These situations occur frequently in service industries where companies handle confidential information belonging to their customers.  For example, a bank or health insurance firm handles personal information about customers, and a management consulting firm handles confidential information belonging to client companies.  Such information must be destroyed when it is no longer needed.

The system should function much like a blind sweeper that cleans conference rooms after meetings end and the participants have left.  The sweeper cannot access the content of any forgotten or abandoned papers, so he simply burns them all.  Such a system must keep track of who needs the information.  Each of these people can be thought of as a person in the conference room.  Only when all the people have left can the blind sweeper enter and destroy the information in the room.  To ensure consistency, destruction of information should occur in two phases.  First, the information to be destroyed is isolated.  Then, when all information to be destroyed has been accounted for, the destruction should take place.

The blind sweeper approach is similar to garbage collection in software, where references to a piece of information lock it in place.  When there are no references to a piece of information, the system deletes it.



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公益資本主義 講演録の掲載

3月4日に交詢社で公益資本主義について講演をしました。交詢社は銀座の交詢社通りにある、福澤諭吉が1880年に作った「日本最初の実業家社交クラブ」。演題は「21世紀の三方よし これからの資本主義」でした。交詢雑誌に掲載された講演録を、交詢社の許可の下でシェア致します(財団法人交詢社『交詢雑誌」第552号平成23年5月20日発行)。



Last week, I formed moduleQ, Inc.  We’re in stealth mode for the time being, but the company’s goal is to commercialize some of my dissertation research related to the use of IT in repetitive, semi-structured processes.  I’ll post updates as events warrant.




Inaugural issue of DJB Quarterly

In connection with my research on Public Interest Capitalism, I’ve decided to write a monthly newsletter covering global economic trends.  The first issue focuses on US trends including the ongoing economic recovery, the decline of labor unions, state and local government budget deficits and spending cuts, tax avoidance by large corporations, and financial sector profits.  I also discuss Michael Porter’s recent article on creating shared value.  The newsletter is available for download here.  This work is supported by the Abegglen Scholarship Fund.  To subscribe, please email me.

UPDATE: My friends in Japan suggested that I add my perspective on the Tohoku disaster.  Here’s an updated version with a discussion of the disaster from a Public Interest Capitalism perspective.