A reckoning with reality

Is there such a thing as ‘reality’? I guess the answer depends on where one draws a line or whether a line can indeed be distinguished and/or drawn.

Can we really distinguish and be able to categorise data into neat buckets (or cells, columns, rows, stacks etc.)? Answer depends on who is distinguishing the data and what the data represent for who. Lots of ‘who’ when it comes to dealing with the reality of data…

This blog was triggered after reading the article, The Fog over the Grimpen Mire: Cloud Computing and the Law, and the recent volcanic ashes quadmire affecting not only the travel industry but also announcement from the ICC on the non- force majeure of the rules of UCP 600 (article 36), URDG 458 (article 13) and URC 522 (article 15), I can’t help but wonder why documents are still needed. No wonder my online banking is never really ‘instant’ when it comes to international payment/transaction – electrons travel but not the paper/document ‘money’. Is ‘money’ real or an illusion? The ‘bucks’ have to stop somewhere and it seems paper is still king in the digital age.

Recently, I was fortunate to have the chance to spend a brief period in the CIETAC office in Beijing and have my first taste of Chinese arbitration-mediation hearing and the administrative work done by the excellent staff in the CIETAC, Beijing. Paper documentation dominants the way the Chinese conduct businesses and invariably paper document finds their way into the dispute resolution mechanism. I am told that the important stuff with document is the red stamp or the seal that shows or authenticate or prove that a piece of document is ‘real’. The seal representing a symbolic proof that the business or transaction is genuine and/or the document has been approved by some high authority or power. In essence the seal is a physical mark – like a signature and yet not quite like a signature more like a symbol recognisable by those who know where the line crosses i.e. the power to draw the line.

Perhaps the Service Level Agreements or the detailed contractual clauses serve as a reminder that the ‘bucks’ have to stop somewhere. The ‘somewhere’ is non categorisable as the ‘act of god’ means different things to different people. Is that why no one really read into the fine print (except those that wrote them?) until the ‘act of god’ becomes a reality to be reckoned with – like in the volcanic ash events?

In my previous work as analyst (system and business) whereby I have to categorise data or model data to fit into a particular business domain or process, I wish I have the luxury to be able to formulate the neat category as described in the article, The Fog over the Grimpen Mire: Cloud Computing and the Law. The author described an approach to the Easter egg business as:
A cloud computing service that processes data for a small business will have access to four different types of data. First, there is data about the small business’ own customers. For example, the data for an Easter egg business might include a list of past Easter egg purchasers, and information about their purchases. Second there is account data about the small business itself, including its contact and payment details.
Third is data generated by the operation of the services (some of which, for example the internal state of applications, may not be accessible to the small business). Last there is activity data, which tracks when and for which applications the business’ account with the service provider is used.

What I find interesting is whether such approach to data categorisation can be extended to any business, not only small business. In the context of cloud computing, the law is applicable not only to small business.

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  1. [...] started the rules revision back in early 2010. During early 2010 I was in CIETAC (as reported in this blog) and had an opportunity to gain valuable insights into the workings of CIETAC, to which I am most [...]

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