Thursday, December 4, 2008

In Answer to Paul Vincent


My heartfelt thanks for joining in.  First, let's make it clear that we are NOT a standards committee like OMG and RuleML.  We are NOT a conference aimed at the CxO guys nor the Business Analysts such as BRF.  ORF is a place for those forgotten and often maligned, underpaid and overworked trolls and serfs who work slavishly in the dungeons of corporate empires, keeping things running and helping to improve the bottom line of net-net profit.  This is OUR time and OUR place to come and attend our wounds, apply salve to open cuts and bandage up our fractured egos.  :-)

ORF is THE conference for The Techies.  It is unlike the myriad of business conferences and theoretical/academic type of conferences.  For example, Business Rules Forum (Ron Ross et cie) caters to the CxO guys and the Business Analysts.  He does what, I for one, consider to be a fantastic job.  We are NOT here to compete with that.  (We couldn't if we wanted to!)  Rather, ORF is complementary to BRF in that while BRF is focused on the business problems and showing how they did things from the upper management level, ORF is concerned more with the "how to do it" and "why does it work that way" kinds of problems, things about which the business guys could not care less.

Neither is ORF anything like OMG nor RuleML, the academic branch of this field.  I've been there (at one time I was a member of the OMG PRR group) and we are NOT setting standards.  We probably are very interested in the standards that are being set but we are interested more in HOW to implement those standards in our rulebased systems.

Finally, while we encourage the use of BRMS (Business Rule Management Systems) we are not business only.  ORF is concerned with the "rulebase" approach to solving problems.  We'll even entertain ideas and presentations on neural nets, Prolog, Constraint-Based Programming or anything else that will open up solutions for problems.  We even had one talk that suggested that we not even use an inference engine.  We are looking for another way to think because, ultimately, it is the techies who have to implement what the business guys have paid for.

Something that might not be know is that at ORF 2008 fully 60% of our attendees were NOT engaged in business nor financial systems.  They were doing configuration projects, shipping and transportation, maintenance activities, network planning and configuration, medical diagnostic problems, etc.  Also, 70% or more were from outside of Texas and 25 or so were from outside the USA.

We also received a question from one person who is deeply involved with another conference asking if there was room for another conference on rulebased systems.  My answer is that we'll have to wait and see.  Surely, because one book is written by a world-recognized expert does not mean that someone else should not also write a book on the same subject but with a different viewpoint and audience.  

If ORF continues as it started, it will be because the technical architects and programmers (we used to call them Knowledge Engineers and Rulebase Engineers) really want a place of their own and can justify the minimal expense of attending a conference that is totally dedicated to answering their questions.  After all, ORF costs less than attending a commercial school by any of the many vendors of BRMS.  

So, basically you asked, "What time is it?"  My answer is, "It's time for the Geeks to come out from under the shadow of corporate empires and seek answers and help each other."  ORF 2008 had some of the best speakers in the world; Dr. Charles Forgy, Jason Morris, Gary Riley, Mark Proctor, Dr. Jacob Feldman, Carole Ann Matignon, Carlos Seranno-Morales, and many others who literally have kept this field alive for the past twenty years.  And ORF 2009 will be even better since most of those who spoke and presented this year have already agreed to be there next year.

Rock On!

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