IT as Psychological Models

Information Technology (IT) became an inseparable part of our daily life, at work and at home. We know that at this point our devices and software are “hybrids” of the traditional algorithms and re-emerging Artificial Intelligence (AI).

In IT Architecture field we talk mostly about component-based architecture or service-oriented architecture (SOA). We assume that we are talking about software only, and use the same old hardware architecture.

While discussing AI, we finally talking about modeling our brain functioning. There are latest research and publications, cutting edge machine learning algorithms and quantum computing. It’s a bright future like Tesla and SpaceX.

So, what is that about? It’s about our collective cognitive dissonance.

We are still using the same old Turing machine from 1936. All attempts to move to something different had failed. The modern CPU is basically implements the Turing machine concept. We still running Assembler code under the hood. Our chips are made of simple logical elements.

What we had done is added several layers of abstraction to hide our primitive basic understanding of the reality.

We had the cognitive psychology model. Our brain is a set of procedures. All we need to do is to replicate them in C, Pascal, or Cobol.

Since the complexity of the programs increased to the level of difficulty to manage the code, we moved to the object-oriented model. So, a program is a replication of objects (people), who politely asks each other to provide some services, and keep their know-how and data to themselves (black boxes).

And the next level of complexity was solved by modularization into separate components with tight cohesion and loose coupling.

And then we distributed components and called them “services”.

What is the point here? The Computer Science started from the modeling of the language as logic, then cognitive psychology came up with the procedures as algorithms, and eventually the rest was purely complexity management regardless of logic or psychology or neuroscience. The model behind hardware became irrelevant, because the programming models were so easy to change to the point of the paradigm shift for the system and software architectures, and developer mindset.

IT is a mess of many different models.

Why this is important? Because it helps to reflect what we can think as humans in psychological modeling terms.

Let’s take a look at the Business Architecture.

What we see is Departments, Lines of Businesses, Offices that deliver products. It sounds like component-based architecture.

Later we started to see a shift toward business services. It makes sense, SOA.

What a business component or a service does called a business process. Should we call it SOP – Standard Operating Procedure? Or a workflow?

That’s it. An IT procedure implements a business procedure – a basic cognitive psychology model for IT – and for business. Not much of a difference.

Now, Enterprise Architecture aligns Business and IT. Which psychological model should we use to resolve the mix of the different models and make it psychologically easy for leadership, architects, and developers to understand, perform the analysis, and design new business-IT operating environments?

Archimate modeling language, as the only EA-specific standard, operates in SOA terminology. We have a Business Service, which is realized via an Application Service, and supported by a Technology Service. There are no systems, no components, no offices with scenic windows. SOA is well-suited for cloud computing models such as SaaS, PaaS, and IaaS. ITIL promotes IT Service Catalog. This is a beautiful abstraction applied consistently from end to end.

Do people usually think that way? In general I use a phone, not phone services, I use a computer, not computer services, I use a stove, not stove services. People naturally think in terms of tangible things they can see and touch. A service is an abstraction, not a thing – one cannot see it or touch it. Hence components, capabilities, offices. It is funny that business architecture is actually catching up with the more advanced IT models.

There is an article that talks about how these IT models influence how people think and behave. We are a part of this new abstract virtual world now, and we are getting confused by the changing or mixed-up psychological models which are not natural for humans. The same people get to work, and get to manage, analyze and design business and IT. The same is happening with the management theories, which are stuck in-between of micromanagement and delegation to agile. By the way, brainstorming as the daily management model is a way to admit a failure of the existing models.

A good example is Leica M6 film camera. The psychological concept behind it is so simple that users move beyond the camera to discuss the topics of composition, contrast of the image-making. And when Leica moved to the digital era, it preserved the same concepts in Leica M10 and Leica Q, while many, many other companies piled up new models into the cramped digital camera features to the point of total shift of the conversation toward the gear itself, not the image-making.

This is a problem space.

Our business models and IT models went beyond our natural psychological models into an artificial, unnatural, and hard to understand “cultural” “thing”. It needs a clean up.

The solution?

Psychology should define what is the natural, simple, and easy way to understand the world. Business, management, and IT fields should follow those concepts, not to drive them. The new humanistic psychological model, not neuroscientific cybernetical materialism, is the only way to replace the layers and layers of abstractions with the new clean and simple foundation.

One thought on “IT as Psychological Models

  1. Interesting read. I wonder if human intelligence/psychology (one and the same for me) should be the yard stick, if only because it is actually pretty limited. Maybe, with the addition of that mass of machine logic, a hybrid could emerge with which we could actually create a better society at planetary scale, but I have to admit can’t see how. Still, it is the hybrid of human psychology and its extension to dumb machine logic that is the subject. The age of ‘pure, pre-machine-logic human psychology’ might well be ending.


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