Proofing comments: was Re: [sc34wg3] TMDM FDIS draft
Sun, 30 Oct 2005 16:59:40 -0500
Some comments on the latest TMDM draft.
Aside to the SC34WG3 list: Despite the length of my comments, realize
that I think the latest draft is very strong and my comments are an
attempt to help it say what it wants to say as precisely as possible.
1 Scope, second paragraph, last sentence:
Reads: "All of these standards fall outside the scope of this document,
Comment: The "..., however" is unnecessary. Simply state the fact and
Suggest: "All of these standards fall outside of this document."
2. Normative references
Reads: Omission of XTM
Comment: Noted the omission of "XTM" despite its appearance in 5.1
General, first note, second paragraph, second sentence. For consistency
I think it should either be a normative reference or included in the
bibliography. Probably more a normative reference than a bibliographic
3. Terms and definitions
Comment: Note that sort name is omitted from the listing, but is the
head of section 7.4 Sort names
a form of topic name used to sort topic
(from 7.4 Sort name, first paragraph, first sentence)
Reads: "making a topic represent the subject of another topic map
construct in the same topic map"
Comment: Although the definition of topic map construct includes "topic
map," which satisfies the need to reify a topic map, it seems odd that
reification says "another topic map construct in the same topic map."
Reasoning that a topic map doesn't really "contain" itself.
Suggest: "making a topic represent the subject of another topic map
construct in the same topic map or the topic map itself"
Comment: May be unnecessarily fussy as I don't see real harm in the
present definition but it does raise the question of a topic map
containing itself. I assume that foreign topic maps are treated as all
5.2 The topic map item, note, first sentence:
Reads: However, while the topic map does not represent anything it may
be reified in order to make statements...."
Comment: Uncertain about the language "...the topic map does not
represent anything..." being followed by statements on how to provide
traditional infomration for something that "does not represent
anything..." I think I understand the difficulty, particularly following
the last sentence of the preceeding paragraph, which reads: "The topic
map itself has no meaning or significance beyond its use as a container
for the information about those subjects."
Suggestion: I would drop the sentence: "The topic map itself has no
meaning or significance beyond its use as a container for the
information about those subjects."
Suggestion: Amend the "...does not represent anything..." sentence to
read: "A topic map may be reified in order to make statements about the
topic map (that is, the collection of topics and associations) as a whole."
Comment: Reasoning that the comments about a topic map having no meaning
or significance are gratuitous and certainly untrue if the topic map is
5.3.2 Identifying Subjects, Example, first paragraph, second sentence:
Consider the IRI |http://www.iso.org|. If given as the subject locator
of topic A this would mean that topic A represents the information
resource identified by this IRI. However, using it as the subject
identifier of topic B would mean that B represents what is described in
that information resource. At the time of writing this would seem to be
the organization known as the International Organization for
Standardization. (Note: the /organization/; the real-world institution
known by that name. This is different from the subject of A, which is
the web page itself.)
Comment: Not sure the second sentence is consistent with the definition
of subject identifier.
subject identifier: locator that refers to a subject indicator
subject indicator: information resource that is referred to from a topic
map in an attempt to unambiguously identify the subject of a topic to a
I don't see "...attempt to unambigously identify the subject of a
topic..." as being the same as " ..B represents what is described in
that information resource."
It isn't that I don't appreciate the difficulty of illustrating the
principle of subject identifiers but on the other hand, I think the
example should be consistent with the definition given in the standard.
To put it another way, I think within the topic map community we share
an unvoiced assumption about subject identifiers that makes this
sentence make sense.
The same criticism applies to the "...it does not unambiguously indicate
a single subject" in the following paragraph. It really is a matter of
judgment as to the subject the topic is meant to represent as to whether
to a particular user a subject identifier is adequate to the task of
"unambiguously" indicating a single subject.
To be honest I have tried for some time to think of a way to fix the
example and came up empty. A real example would require more detail that
I think would be appropriate in such a note. Since examples are meant to
assist in explaining the standard and this one appears to depart from
it, I would suggest simply dropping the example.
5.3.3 Topic characteristics, second paragraph, first sentence:
Reads: "The properties of topic items that do not represent topic
characteristics are not statements about the subject; they are
statements about the topic."
Comment: Since "topic" is a defined term, the final clause: "...they are
statements about the topic." seems incorrect or at least confusing.
Suggest: "The properties of topic items that do not represent topic
characteristics are not statements about the subject; they are
statements about the topic item."
Comment: Which makes it clear that the statements are about a topic map
5.3.4 Scope, note:
Reads: "This is the first Topic Maps standard to define scope as being
"all subjects", hence older topic maps may not conform to this."
Comment: Granted this is the first Topic Maps standard to define scope
as being "all subjects" but then the reference to older topic maps
leaves the reader wondering what other topic map standards had different
definitions of scope.
See the comment on the undocumented reference to XTM, which could be
used here to fix this problem.
Suggest: "This is the first Topic Maps standard to define scope as being
"all subjects." Topic maps written using the [XTM] standard may not
conform to this definition.
5.3.5 Reification, first paragraph, second sentence:
Reads: "For example, creating a topic that represents the relationship
an association represents is reification."
Comment: Since this is explanatory material, shouldn't this be in a
note? (as opposed to the current note, see the following comment on the
5.3.5 Reification, first note:
Reads: "Note that the use of the term 'reification' in this document is
not to be confused with its use in philosophy."
Comment: I am not sure how useful this note will be to readers in light
of the precise definition that begins this section.
5.4 Topic name items, first paragraph, second sentence:
Reads: "It is only the topic name which is a topic characteristic; the
base name and variant name are only parts of the topic name characteristic."
Comment: Uncertain what "only" adds to "...are only parts of the..."
Suggest: "The topic name is a topic characteristic; the base name and
variant name are parts of the topic name characteristic."
5.4 Topic name items, first note, last sentence:
Reads: "Essentially, a base name is a specialized kind of occurrence."
Comment: The word "essentially" appears to qualify the statement in some
unstated fashion. Why not simply make the statement?
Suggest: "A base name is a specialized kind of occurrence."
5.5 Variant items, note, final sentence:
Reads: "This document does not constrain the process by which this is done."
Comment: Granted but if so, need we say anything at all? What is not
prohibited is permitted sort of reasoning.
5.6 Occurrence items, first paragraph, fourth sentence:
Reads: " Occurrences are essentially a specialized kind of association,
where one participant in the association shall be an information resource."
Comment: Question of why qualify with "essentially" again.
Suggest: "Occurrences are a specialized kind of association, where one
participant in the association shall be an information resource."
6.2 Merging topic items
Comment: I puzzled over the absence of the absence of any updating of
the [roles played] property until I remembered that it is a computed value.
Since the computed properties on topic item are only [roles played],
[reified], and [parent], will all other instances being [parent]
properties, I would suggest a note here to cover the updating the [roles
played] property under 6.2.
Suggest: Note: The [roles played] property is a computed value and
therefore is not explicitly covered under the procedure for updating
values when merging two topic items A and B.
7 Core subject identifiers, 7.1 General, second paragraph:
Reads: "All core subject identifiers defined by this document are
distinct, that is, topics representing these subjects canot be merged
with one another."
Comment: Yes, the core subject identifiers are distinct, but what's
important is that the subjects they represent are distinct. That subject
identifiers are distinct is no barrier to merging them, provided they
identify the same subject.
Suggest: "The subjects represented by the core subject identifiers
defined by this document are distinct, that is, topics representing
these subjects cannot be merged with one another."
7.2 The type-instance relationship, first paragraph, second sentence:
Reads: "Any subject that belongs to the extension of a particular topic
type is known as an instance of that topic type."
Comment: I tend to read "...the extension of a particular topic type..."
to mean "subtype" and not "instance." Not to mention that the sentence
is mixing topics and subjects. That is that to be an instance of a topic
type is a characteristic of an information item, not the subject it
Suggest: "An information item with a particular topic type is known as
an instance of that topic type."
7.2 The type-instance relationship, last paragraph (Same comment and
suggestion applies to 7.3 The supertype-subtype relationship, last
paragraph before example):
Reads: "Scope applies to this association type just the same way as it
does to any other."
Comment: What drew my attention was "...as it does to any other." Agree
that making the application of scope clear is a good idea, question
whether this reaches that goal.
Suggest: The rules for applying scope to associations are defned in 5.7
(Both occurrences of this sentence.)
7.4 Sort names, third sentence:
Reads: "Implementations may use other sort orders for datatypes other
than those defined in this document."
Comment: In other words, sort order for the string datatype is fixed?
Granted that the variant name item [value] property is not fixed as
string and so an implementation could choose a sort order on some
datatype other than string for variant name.
7.4 Sort name, second paragraph:
Reads: " Sort names can be represented by variant items whose [scope]
property contains a topic item...."
Comment: Is the TMDM allowing the possibility that a sort name could be
represented by an association? That seem to be the implication of the
"...can be..." language.
7.5 Subjects for defined terms,
Reads: "Usage: the type of all associations."
Comment: Isn't this going to be confusing with associaton [type] property?
Same problem occurs with: association-role, association-role-type,
association-type, occurrence, occurrence-type, subject,
subject-indicator, topic-map, topic-name, topic-name-type, topic-type.
This statement is absent from variant-name.
Since I am not certain what is meant by "the type of all (insert term)
types" I am not able to suggest a correction.
Speculate what is meant is a type that includes all of the instance of
each particular type, but I am not sure why we would need a subject for
Not questioning the need to have representatives for each of these
subjects, but am questioning the meaning of the "Usage" statements as
As I said at the outset, a very strong draft and one that I think, with
some minor tweaking merits approval as an FDIS draft. (Speaking in my
personal capacity and not as representative of the US National Body.)
I don't see any of my comments as show-stoppers nor my suggestions as
necessarily the correct solutions to those comments. I hope these
comments will be helpful in terms of preparing the final version of the
Hope you are having a great day!
Lars Marius Garshol wrote:
>A proposed FDIS draft of the TMDM has just been uploaded to:
> <URL: http://www.isotopicmaps.org/sam/sam-model/ >
>The idea is to spend the weekend proof-reading, and then submit the
>final draft for ballot on Tuesday. Comments very much welcome.
Chair, V1 - Text Processing: Office and Publishing Systems Interface
Co-Editor, ISO 13250, Topic Maps -- Reference Model
Member, Text Encoding Initiative Board of Directors, 2003-2005
Topic Maps: Human, not artificial, intelligence at work!