Bo Sundgren – An intellectual biography – No. 8 The last decade

In the early 1970s, Bo wanted his own general theory of data bases, and dissmissed the relational model as too limited. History was not kind to this.

Then there was a mayor ARKSY project at Statistics Sweden. At the end of the 1970s there was even a first mayor UN session about statistical systems.

What became of that we do not know, except that they must have failed. But, we do know that most of the ideas and concepts were in circulation already then.

During the 1980s, everything becomes very quite, at least judging from the publications on Bo’s own web site.

In the early 1990s the old issues from the 1970s reappeared. Bo then started to rehash his old material and publish it in R & D Reports from Statistics Sweden.

In all this, we do not find a single article in a leading academic journal about informatics. Why not?

In any case, we have now reached the final decade. The 2000s. The beginning of this decade saw a concerted effort from the EU to finance “statistical metadata” projects. This is when we find projects such as AMRADS, Metanet and COSMOS. What did Bo contribute via these projects, if anything?

Not much, it seems. In fact, these projects were over all a great failure. And, here is the most important point! These failures were totally unnecessary. If Bo had been honest about learning from this earlier failures they may never have been repeated in the 2000s. Instead, he did the very opposite and sold his old horse to the new international metadata circuit.

Then, suddenly there was SDMX and DDI and the METIS framework. The SDMX consultant did not even know about Sundgren’s earlier models, so they arranged a special meeting between Bo and the consultant. Very little came out of that, except the new term DSD instead of key family (and Bo did not come up with that term himself!).

This has not stopped the international statistical metadata circuit from honoring Sundgren. To the contrary, this was exactly what they had been looking for. A mentor that could teach them how to do nothing slowly, forever.

For example, since 2001 The International Marketing and Statistical Output Database Conference (IMAODBC) awards a yearly “Bo Sundgren Award”, and the prize winners are of course only from statistical agencies. There is no self-denial here.

On Sundgren’s home page we find a large number of publications from the 2000s. What can we say about them?

Of course, he has continued to rehash old material. He has also begun to float more and more on top of things. He has left the more concrete issues and discusses statistical systems and public information systems in an increasingly lofty and abstract manner.

What else is there to do, when you have not been able to solve – or even properly formulate – the fundamental issues to be solved?

This has not stopped Bo from parading as knowledgable about modelling. For example, from 2005, we find a publication with the title “Modelling statistical systems”. Go, figure!

Another typical publication in this genre, is one with the title “Classification of statistical metadata”. Who needs that?

Where are the solutions to real-life modelling problems, stupid!

I think you get the general drift of this. You can always visit the “Publications” page on his home page and see the list of publications from the 2000s yourself!

I will end this intellectual biography with a small contest. If you can find a publication by Bo that has contributed to the solving of a core metadata modelling issue, feel free to contact me!


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