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Discover data patterns or Create data patterns?

  • From: "Costello, Roger L." <costello@m...>
  • To: <xml-dev@l...>
  • Date: Sat, 20 Sep 2008 08:50:48 -0400

Discover data patterns or Create data patterns?

Hi Folks,

Recently I read this:

"One of the most important axioms in the discipline of Information
Architecture states that designers are the ones who uncover patterns
inherent in data, and expose them in an interface." [1]

I was particularly struck by these words: "uncover patterns inherent in

I got to thinking, 

    - How does one uncover patterns in data? 

    - Does data have inherent patterns?

    - What is a data pattern?

I looked at regular expressions, e.g.


This regular expression specifies a "pattern"; namely zero or more
letters of the alphabet followed by zero or more digits.

This is a low-level pattern, at the character level.

What are patterns at the document level?

When I create an XML instance document I am (implicitly) stating,
   - Here is a data pattern I think is useful.

Do you agree?

For example, I discovered a pattern in BookStores: they are comprised
of multiple Books. And I discovered a pattern in Books: they are
comprised of a Title, an Author, a Date of publication, an ISBN, and a
Publisher. I can expose these patterns like this:

         <Title>The Art & Science of Web Design</Title>
         <Author>Jeffrey Veen</Author>
         <Publisher>New Riders</Publisher>


1. Are data patterns discovered, or, are data patterns created?

2. Are data patterns descriptive, or, are data patterns prescriptive?

3. What's the difference between a "master" data designer versus a
"novice" data designer? 

4. Does this characterize the difference: a master data designer
discovers patterns intrinsic in data whereas a novice data designer
engineers a pattern?

5. Are there steps that a person can take to transition from a novice
data designer to a master data designer?


[1] The Art & Science of Web Design by Jeffrey Veen

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