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Computing Thoughts
Getting Away from "Kinds of Storage"
by Bruce Eckel
October 10, 2008
I think the Smalltalk model was way ahead of its time. My vision is to move completely away from the idea of different kinds of storage.


You have something running, and it's just "there" on your machine, and sometimes you are using it but often you're not using it. The idea of the machine being "on" or "off" becomes unimportant. That things might or might not be stored on rotating media becomes unimportant. "Loading" and "storing" from other kinds of media become unimportant (think how much easier it will be to explain the computer to a novice when you don't have to mention disks).

Of course, "fixing" your machine by rebooting must first become a thing of the past.

This will probably also require a shift in how we think about databases. Relational Database Management Systems (RDBMS) came into being by shifting the perspective from the application (which kept the data locked within it) to the data (which then allowed many apps to use the data however they wanted).

I think this is what we're looking for in The Next Data Representation (hmm, sounds like the topic for an open-spaces conference). Making data into objects does seem like it's moving back into the hierarchical data model, with its application-specific restrictions. And yet the RDBMS seems to always require adaptation to fix the impedance match with objects. LINQ is brilliant, but it's really about bringing the manipulation of the database into the mainstream language (where it has always belonged, IMHO) and not about fixing the impedance mismatch between objects and RDBMSes.

We either need to expand/change the data model, or expand/change the object model.

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About the Blogger

Bruce Eckel ( provides development assistance in Python with user interfaces in Flex. He is the author of Thinking in Java (Prentice-Hall, 1998, 2nd Edition, 2000, 3rd Edition, 2003, 4th Edition, 2005), the Hands-On Java Seminar CD ROM (available on the Web site), Thinking in C++ (PH 1995; 2nd edition 2000, Volume 2 with Chuck Allison, 2003), C++ Inside & Out (Osborne/McGraw-Hill 1993), among others. He's given hundreds of presentations throughout the world, published over 150 articles in numerous magazines, was a founding member of the ANSI/ISO C++ committee and speaks regularly at conferences.

This weblog entry is Copyright © 2008 Bruce Eckel. All rights reserved.

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