Let’s consider a simple hinge – consisting of two leafs and a single hinge pin. One of the leafs firmly integrates with, say, ‘world’ A; the other leaf with ‘world’ B. And the modest hinge pin, easily overlooked as it is, in fact, plays the leading part. For in one and the same move this ordinary hinge pin provides the intended coherence as well as the required freedom to each of the neighbouring ‘worlds’.
So… whenever we encounter two (or more) ‘worlds’ that on the one hand very, very much value their own own-ness, uniqueness, perspective, autonomy, independency etc. and on the other hand do have that strong need for smooth communication, cooperation, collaboration etc. in certain areas then… we know… that we definitely need that third element… that simple hinge pin to fulfil both needs in one and the same move. That’s the simple, yet very powerful Hinge Pin Principle .
Now let’s have a look at a convenient, non-trivial example. Consider two connected, yet independently operated gas transport networks: A and B. Let’s assume that these two networks are connected at some point P. Gas may flow from A to B (or vice versa) via P. Each of the two autonomous network operators exerts his own (evolving) ideas, intentions, interests, purposes etc. etc. with respect to this connection point P.
Informationally speaking… The only way to safely, fully and durably honour the ever evolving information needs of the two autonomous, yet interdependent operators of the neighbouring networks A and B… is to introduce a new and separate information structure that closely carries hinge pin qualities. An information structure which in one and the same move firmly separates as well as smoothly interrelates P-according-to-operator-A and P-according-to-operator-B.
Each operator individually and independently identifies his very own set of attributes to reflect his notion of P. The hinge pin only contains two connectors in order to make it entirely fit for its specific purpose. One connector connects the hinge pin to P-according-to-operator-A. And the other connector connects that same hinge pin to P-according-to-operator-B. Using the hinge pin all connected perspectives become coherently available to all relevant participants: network operators, shippers, traders etc.
Extending the example to larger scales… we experience several operators (A, B, C, D etc.) all dealing with several connection points (P1, P2, P3 etc.) that interrelate their neighboring networks. All individual hinge pins can now be put together in, say, a hinge pin set. This hinge pin set – when properly disclosed offers great flexibility to network operators, shippers, traders etc. Another term for such a hinge pin set is an information roundabout .
Nowadays we identify many, many ‘worlds’ that on the one hand all deeply feel that strong desire of independence while on the other hand they all want their ever evolving needs for communication, to cooperation and collaboration to be adequately met. And, as we know by now, the only way to fully and durably honour both needs simultaneously… is to recognise both the necessity and the power of the hinge pin principle. As one can easily see… there is a wide, wide range of applications for hinge pin sets – alias information roundabouts. Not only across organizations – even within every single organization.
November 2012, Copyright (c) 2012 – Jan van Til/Information Roundabout
1. The power of hinges/hinge pins is mentioned/described several times
by Pieter Wisse – unfortunately in Dutch. As a major example: Informatieverkeer in publiek domein (2004; especially chapter 16).
2. Please do have a look at the About page on this website. The information on that page (including its links) provides the reader with a far better understanding of the concept and power of an Information Roundabout. In this respect Pieter Wisse deserves special mention: Pieter developed Metapattern – a method for systematic information modeling. Metapattern or a method like Metapattern is necessary for the successful development of an Information Roundabout.