Concatenation…or Con-cat-o-Nation…

01May08

Over the past week I have been brushing up on my database and spreadsheet skills. Once again, I come face-to-face with one of the function capabilities within databases and its spreadsheet byproducts: the combination of strings, or concatenated fields and cells. Other than being a fun way to say, “merging,” the concatenated object may provide a model of understanding mashups, Freakonomics, and other Franken-measures. Dare I say, information as thing is back? I dare!

I am still digesting and looking for more information, but over the weekend the BBC World Service had an interesting interview [requires Windows Media Player or Real Player] with Ian Ayers (author of the popular Super Crunchers book). I’ll add this to my reading list shortly when I get the time to do some more reading for fun – or figure out why this is important to my project at hand. In fact, the title for this posting borrows a tongue-in-cheek play on Ayers’s “database decision making” trend in this country and across the flat world.

Since I started writing this (and this is a couple of weeks past my original goal to have it posted), I have had some time to mull over the importance and idea behind concatenating. First, consider the rash of so-called Web 2.0 (or just add 2.0 to your preferred subject) applications, ideas, and concepts circulating in the current marketplace of ideas. What is Web 2.0 (to say nothing of the push to 3.0 now)? Here’s my simplified view of the landscape:

 

Figure 1, A History of the Point-0 Evolution Path

 

In my father’s web there was DOS, and they rejoiced. In my lifetime (so far), the web evolved into a more visually appealing medium. The UNIX lines of Amazon.com and my old Pine email are relics on the shelf next to my TRS-80 and Pong machine. As look toward the web my children will inherent, my mind spins – not to say this wouldn’t happen anyway, but the possibilities (and my awareness of what it means) are truly mind blowing in a Merry Pranksters kind of way! But then my pop culture cravings reel me back into flashbacks from The Matrix. Are we heading to a more connected world, and what does that mean? Much less, where in the world did a word like “concatenate” come from? Other than the usual suspects of a Google (or other) search, I was surprised to find a medical, a blog (näturlich!), and of course data (this is one of the more obscure but fairly common uses…in the words of the immortal Hyundai commercial, DUH!

As I look at this some more (and get more bleary-eyed), the history I’m laying out in the diagram calls for some more thought…but that’s a later project and posting. And then there’s the whole information or concatenation as thing to come back…joy, joy!

 

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