A Language/Action Based Approach to Information Modeling

A Language/Action Based Approach to Information Modeling

Paul Johannesson (Stockholm University/ Royal Institute of Technology, Sweden)
Copyright: © 2001 |Pages: 16
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-878289-77-3.ch006
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Abstract

There are several different views of the functional role of information systems. Two of the most important ones are the model view and the communicative action view. According to the model view, the primary purpose of an information system is to provide a model of a Universe of Discourse (UoD), thereby enabling people to obtain information about reality by studying the model. In this respect, an information system works as a passive repository of data that reflects the structure and behaviour of the UoD. In contrast, the communicative action view states that the major role of an information system is to support communication within an organisation by structuring and coordinating the actions performed by the organisation’s agents. The system is seen as a medium through which people can perform social actions, such as stating facts, making promises, and giving orders. In certain cases, the system can itself take on the role of an agent and perform actions on its own initiative. Most representation techniques used in systems development are based on the model view of information systems. For example, Entity-Relationship diagrams or object-oriented class diagrams are used to represent the static and structural aspects of a UoD. Other examples are entity life cycle diagrams and interaction diagrams, which describe the behaviour of objects. Another technique, which also addresses communicative aspects, is the data flow diagram technique by which the information and control flow between agents in an organisation can be represented. These types of techniques have received widespread acceptance and are now important parts of several systems development methodologies. However, the techniques have also been heavily criticised, see for example (Auramäki, 1988) and (Coad, 1990). One line of critique argues that the basic concepts of the techniques are inappropriate for describing the activities of an organisation. When using the techniques, an enterprise is viewed as a collection of physical places or objects, and the work performed is accordingly analysed as physical activities such as sending messages and storing data. This focus on the physical transfer of data results in a computer and technology biased representation of the communication taking place in an organisation. Thus, from a communicative point of view, the very starting point of many modeling techniques are themselves flawed and should be replaced by an approach that focuses on the communicative actions of an enterprise. A promising approach for modelling communication structures is the language/action approach, which is based on theories from linguistics and the philosophy of language. In the language/action approach, business processes are modeled using the notions of speech acts and discourses, which provides a basis for distinguishing between distinct communication phases, such as preparation, negotiation, and acceptance. The purpose of this chapter is to investigate how the language/action approach can be used as a foundation for the information modeling of the communicative aspects in an organisation. This will be carried out by showing how a language/action approach combined with deontic concepts can be used to construct and organise analysis patterns for information modeling. These analysis patterns can be used in information modeling by supporting reuse, validation, and analysis of conceptual schemas. The information model can also be used to suggest how to organise the components that realise the communicative aspects of an information system into a three-tier architecture. The paper is organised as follows. Section 2 briefly discusses related work. Section 3 introduces an information model based on the language/action perspective. Section 4 shows how this model can be used to organise a number of analysis patterns. Section 5 discusses a number of applications of the model for reuse, validation, and systems architecture. Section 6 concludes the paper and gives suggestions for further work. This chapter extends previous work presented in (Johannesson, 1999).

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Table of Contents
Chapter 1
Keng Siau, Matti Rossi
Despite the rapid advancement of technology in the last few decades, accurate, on-time and on-budget completion of information systems development... Sample PDF
Information Modeling in the Internet Age - Challenges, Issues and Research Directions
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Chapter 2
Jan L.G. Dietz
We live in a time in which more and more organisations need to become innovative, competitive, and flexible enterprises, in order to survive. This... Sample PDF
Coherent, Consistent and Comprehensive Modeling of Communication, Information, Action and Organization
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Chapter 3
El-Sayed Abou-Zeid
Several weaknesses of information systems development methodologies have been identified and studied in the recent years. These weaknesses can be... Sample PDF
Toward an Autopoietic Approach for Information Systems Development
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Chapter 4
Pramila Gupta, James A. Sykes
We would like to believe that early in the new millennium the practice of conceptual modeling will rest on a sounder theory base than it does at... Sample PDF
Conceptual Modeling Process and the Notion of a Concept
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Chapter 5
Tero Paivarinta, Viekko Halttunen, Pasi Tyrvainen
Currently, corporations implement diversified computer-based information systems (IS). These include organization-scale solutions such as enterprise... Sample PDF
A Genre-Based Method for Information Systems Planning
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Chapter 6
Paul Johannesson
There are several different views of the functional role of information systems. Two of the most important ones are the model view and the... Sample PDF
A Language/Action Based Approach to Information Modeling
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Chapter 7
Par J. Agerfalk, Goran Goldkuhl
In this chapter, we discuss the importance of considering the action character of information when modeling information in business processes. The... Sample PDF
Business Action and Information Modeling - The Task of the New Millennium
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Chapter 8
Zhan Cui, Michael Cox, Dean Jones
With the advent of the Internet and electronic commerce, future business services will be jointly offered by autonomous and collaborating units or... Sample PDF
An Environment for Managing Enterprise Domain Ontology
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Chapter 9
Joonhee Yoo, Michael Bieber
Many conceptual modeling and system design methodologies provide tools to help system designers to model the real world. No guidelines exist... Sample PDF
A Systematic Relationship Analysis for Modeling Information Domains
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Chapter 10
Terry Halpin
Although the Unified Modeling Language (UML) provides deep support for the design of object-oriented applications, it currently lacks a number of... Sample PDF
Integrating Fact-Oriented Modeling with Object-Oriented Modeling
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Chapter 11
Bernard Moulin
The general trend of the information technology evolution towards component-based and software agent-based systems calls for an integration of the... Sample PDF
On the Convergence of Analysis and Design Methods for Multi-Agent, Component-Based and Object-Oriented Systems
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Chapter 12
Nekatarios Georgalas
The explosive emergence of distributed computing environments and component-based architectures increases the demand for flexible information... Sample PDF
An Information Management Environment Based on the Model of Object Primitives
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Chapter 13
Ashley Bush, Sandeep Purao
Over the years, the information system design process (Gero and Kazakov, 1996; Goldschmidt, 1997; Guindon, 1990; Jeffries et al., 1981; Parnas and... Sample PDF
Mapping UML Techniques to Design Activities
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Chapter 14
P. Bertolazzi, M. G. Fugini, B. Pernici
Current trends in modern Information System development are more and more based on the exploitation of the experience gained in previous... Sample PDF
Information System Design Based on Reuse of Conceptual Components
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Chapter 15
Alexandra Galatescu
The proposed translation of natural language (NL) patterns to object and process modeling is seen as an alternative to the symbolic notations... Sample PDF
A Unifying Translation of Natural Language Patterns to Object and Process Modeling
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Chapter 16
Dina Goren-Bar
Intelligent Systems are served by Intelligent User Interfaces aimed to improve the efficiency, effectiveness and adaptation of the interaction... Sample PDF
Designing Model-Based Intelligent Dialogue Systems
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Chapter 17
James A. Thom
Software engineers develop an information model in the systems analysis and design process to represent the concepts, specification or... Sample PDF
Information Models for Document Engineering
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Chapter 18
Event Modeling  (pages 303-323)
Lars Baekgaard
The purpose of this chapter is to discuss conceptual event modeling within a context of information modeling. Traditionally, information modeling... Sample PDF
Event Modeling
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Chapter 19
Hilary J. Kahn, Nick P. Filer
This chapter considers the use of specifications such as information models as the basis for implementations. Where the models are at a conceptual... Sample PDF
From Information Model to Controllable Implementation
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Chapter 20
Mario Piattini, Marecela Genero, Coral Calero, Macario Polo, Francisco Ruiz
In a global and increasingly competitive market, quality is a critical success factor for all economical and organisational aspects and especially... Sample PDF
Metrics for Managing Quality in Information Modeling
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Chapter 21
Ying Deng, Paeter Revesz
Spatial and topological data models are increasingly important in business applications such as urban development planning, transportation and... Sample PDF
Spatial and Topological Data Models
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Chapter 22
Harri Oinas-Kukkonen, Toni Alatalo, Jouko Kaasila, Henri Kivela, Sami Sivunen
Web information systems engineering means a collection of sound principles, methods, techniques and tools for developing Web-based information... Sample PDF
Requirements for Web Engineering Methodologies
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Chapter 23
Peter Zoller
Methodologies for modeling hypermedia applications are a comparatively young, but nevertheless very promising area of current research. The rapid... Sample PDF
HMT: Modeling Interactive and Adaptive Hypermedia Applications
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Chapter 24
Bernahrd Strauch, Robert Winter
Current web site development is still dominated by technical issues. In order to enable efficient communication between developers and to provide a... Sample PDF
Conceptual Web Site Modeling
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Chapter 25
Heiko Ludwig
Providing customers with an electronic means to control a service that is performed on their behalf in an electronic commerce environment requires... Sample PDF
Modeling of Customers' Interactive Control of Service Processes
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Chapter 26
Olga De Troyer
Today Web-related software development seems to be faced with a crisis not unlike the one that occurred a generation ago when in the 1970s. Computer... Sample PDF
Audience-Driven Web Design
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Chapter 27
Gustavo Rossi, Daniel Schwabe
In this chapter we show how to design Web applications as shared views of conceptual models. We argue that Web applications are different from... Sample PDF
Object-Oriented Web Applications Modeling
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