[sc34wg3] Re: Backwards Compatability WAS: Public Interest and ISO WAS: [topicmapmail] <mergeMap> questions

Sam Hunting sc34wg3@isotopicmaps.org
Thu, 18 Oct 2001 12:05:44 -0700 (PDT)

[sam hunting]
> >My position on this is (I hope) a little more nuanced. Obviously,
> >having implementations is in the public interest (assuming the
> >absence of various unlikely scenarios that would make something 
> >indeed worse than nothing). Having topic maps that interoperate 
> >across implementations is ITPI. Fixing broken aspects of the
spec(s)> >or the paradigm(s) is ITPI. Having a spec percieved as stable
> >IPTI. Making sure the expressed requirements of users are attended 
> >to is ITPI. Having public domain or free tools is IPTI. Having
> >profitable ITPI toolmakers is IPTI. Having IPTI consultants and 
> >authors is important. And so on and so on. All of these seem to me 
> >to unexceptional examples of things that are In The Public Interest.
> >
> >(I guess the operational definition of "public interest" in all my
> >examples is that they make the topic map "pie" larger. None of them
> >imply a zero sum game.)

[kal ahmed]
> This begs the follwoing question: What do you consider the proposal
> for multiple association scopes to be ? 

No, I don't. Begging a question is assuming the truth of something that
is to be proved. I don't answer that question because it isn't on point
for this thread (see below).

[kal ahmed]
> Is it "fixing broken aspects of the  spec(s) or paradigms" ? Because 
> I'm not convinced (yet) that it is.

If you were convinced that the spec or the paradigm were broken, and
that to be fixed, changes that were backwards incompatible for
applications had to be made in the spec, would you support the changes?
That's the question before us.

I suspect you would answer (as I do) that "it depends" on a lot of
factors -- some of which I list above. I think that public interest is
one such factor. I also think that "backwards compatibilty" is not a
fetish to be worshipped, but a principle to be applied on a case by
case basis. The W3C folks revise their specs -- why shouldn't the topic

[kal ahmed]
> And did I suggest that we couldn't / shouldn't ? All I'm saying is
> that attempting to finesse the discussion by claiming that a 
> particular point of  view is ITPI, is not a way forwards.

Perhaps not for you. Perhaps for others. 

[sam hunting]
> >I like what Patrick says on backward compatibility very much. He
> >writes:
> >
> >Existing implementations should inform the process of
> >formulating a public standard, not define its limits. Prior font 
> >standards (and implementations) at least defined failing strategies
> >for the eventual /10646 standard.
> >
> >Can you agree with this?

[kal ahmed] 
> Sorry to shout,

As the master of cliche on this list, I cannot resist the followin
citation--"If you can't argue the facts, argue the law. If you can't
argue the law, pound the table..." In any case, look at what Patrick
wrote. He uses the words standard several times. And do you disagree
with his approach?

As a point of terminology, we do have a standard (ISO 13250) and we
also have a *specification* (XTM 1.0).

> but I feel like we are making like we are still in 
> development mode. Yeah, sure, if we want to start work on XTM 2.0
> then working with 1.0  as a fail-over could be a valid starting 
> point, but we are not. We have XTM 1.0 - some of us like it, few of 
> us like all of it. So what. Lets get on with defining models that 
> work with XTM 1.0 

and also 13250

> that enable us to develop TMCL 1.0 and TMQL 1.0. Lets not revisit 
> basic model issues. 

I'm unclear on the distinction that you draw between defining models
that work with XTM 1.0 and basic model issues that we should not

>  Implementors have dutifully coded ... Moving the goal posts now can,
> in my opinion, only hurt topic maps.

(I note, in passing, that "only hurt topic maps" is a public interest
argument....) Seriously, though, this seems to argue that *any* change
that causes implementors to have to recode *anything* is, by
definition, undesireable. Please assure me that this is a grotesque
caricature of your position!

What I am seeking is not not not not a resolution of the scopes issue
-- that is for another thread. What I am hoping to discover is if there
are any shared principles by which we can "move forward" -- this seems
to me to be bigger game than the scopes issue. Of course, I could be
naive to even seek this, and the standards world is a Hobbes-ian


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