Last summer I found myself in Istanbul without toothpaste, a cap and razor blades. I was pretty sure I wouldn’t find all items in a local supermarket. I also didn’t want to make three individual trips to a pharmacy, a clothing store and a shaving shop (I like double-edged safety razors).

Luckily my hotel was close to the Grand Bazaar. This marketplace is the central hub of the city for selling goods. Although the place is a bit chaotic, the goods are surprisingly well organized in a grid of alleys: there are alleys with carpets, others for spices, near the end they sell leather jackets, etc. It was easy to navigate to this central place and quickly buy the three things I needed.

Where have we seen this pattern before?

The Unified Namespace solves the problem of finding and retrieving data in a similar way:

  • I didn’t need to understand the local language: no domain knowledge required.
  • Everyone knew where the bazaar was: easy access.
  • Everything I could possibly need was in one place: single source of truth.
  • Finding goods at the bazaar was self-evident: data is organized in a semantic hierarchy.

Throughout history we’ve been centralizing and organizing items to facilitate exchange. While the technology is new, the unified namespace adheres to this ancient approach.