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

Murray Altheim sc34wg3@isotopicmaps.org
Wed, 24 Oct 2001 12:27:45 -0700

"Steven R. Newcomb" wrote:
> [Kal Ahmed:]
> > I'm making the point (though obviously not clearly
> > enough) that topic maps will not succeed or fail
> > because it is "correct" as determined by ISO,
> > TopicMaps.Org or anyone else for that matter. It will
> > succeed if and only if the paying public decide that
> > there is value in it and invest accordingly.
> > If the success of topic maps is of paramount
> > importance,
> Here's that "public interest" problem again: Is the
> "success of Topic Maps" the goal of all the work we
> have done, or were Topic Maps invented to serve some
> other goal?  I've always thought so. [...]

And yet the public standard by which we planned to make this
happen (XTM) is completely unable to assist you in your root
causes if it fails. One can't improve human productivity or our
ability to communicate knowledge clearly if the technology by
which you wish it to happen is being hampered in its success,
if nobody pays any attention to it, if nobody makes any 
investment in it. I don't think anyone is deluded in thinking
of Topic Maps as an end in itself. It's the bricks and mortar
by which that happens. I don't believe anyone in this group is
in some way privileged in understanding any of these motivations.
I think we all share them to a great degree.

> > then the people we should be listening to are the
> > users. Are topic maps "broken" because they cannot
> > represent multiple equivalent assertions with a
> > single Association "object", but instead have a model
> > in which you end up with multiple equivalent
> > assertions with a single scope each ? No, not unless
> > the user community says they are ...[snip]... [and]
> > there really isn't [a user community] yet.
> Correct me if I'm wrong, but you seem to be arguing
> that we should create a user community around something
> we know to be broken, and wait for them to wake up and
> realize it before we fix it.  Did I get that right?

Since the Paris meeting I've heard over and over again claims that XTM 
is broken. I'm really not interested in hearing it one more time. Until
we actually see a list of things that are broken it's ridiculous and
damaging to the success of this entire endeavour to continue to make 
these claims, especially from you. Arguing philosophically about the 
value of anything is simply arguing philosophically. It's not moving 
us forward one whit, and I don't know why you'd not think it rather 
insulting to others to read that those who don't agree with your views 
en toto are wrong, if this isn't backed up with the technical reasons 
by which we all could ascertain that. It's just more salt. Discussions
of what is or who better represents or how best to serve the "public
interest" still sound to me like a "holier than thou" discussion. They
as well are just more salt at this point.

Until there is evidence on the table showing the specific errors in XTM
I will consider this a difference of opinion. How can anyone do otherwise?
It's been nine months and where's the specifics? Obviously XTM is correct 
enough that there are multiple, successful implementations (which BTW is 
how some organizations determine success of a standard). Letting 
implementors move forward without telling them where the errors are (if 
indeed there are serious errors) is IMO irresponsible both to them and 
their customers. I hope you aren't suggesting that nobody begin to
implement XTM until it is "correct." I know of no complex standard or 
technology that is 100% correct, and indeed I think XTM hit the 80/20 
point pretty damned well. I'm not convinced we didn't hit it 90/10. If
you think otherwise, put your cards on the table. Or even a few of them.

For starters, what is wrong with Annex F, since that seems to be one of
the bones of contention?


Murray Altheim                         <mailto:murray.altheim&#x40;sun.com>
XML Technology Center, Java and XML Software
Sun Microsystems, Inc., MS MPK17-102, 1601 Willow Rd., Menlo Park, CA 94025

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