[topicmaps-comment] OASIS vs W3C / Re: [sc34wg3] History

Geir Ove Grønmo sc34wg3@isotopicmaps.org
21 Sep 2001 10:22:13 +0200

* Murray Altheim
| "Tsao, Scott" wrote:
| > From my perspective ("personal knothole") I would like to see these
| > types of collaboration:
| > 
| > (1) W3C/ISO
| >     Harmonization of core standards for RDF and XTM, between W3C 
| >     RDF Core WG and ISO 13250 WG.
| This is the one I've had a problem with all along. Either there is
| a misunderstanding (from not just you but many people) about the
| essential nature of RDF and XTM or people are simply trying to 
| get rid of one or the other. They're apples and oranges, no, they're
| apples and meatball pie, or apples and eyeglasses. What harmonization
| can there be between RDF (graphs-in-XML) and XTM (subject-based
| mapping technology)? Certainly it's possible to create an RDF-based
| syntax for XTM, but you could also create any number of other syntax
| representations. There could be a binary TM standard for all we know
| (which might be valuable for passing around very large or pre-processed
| topic maps).
| There is no essential advantage in having XTM be RDF-based, and given 
| that even hard-core RDF fanatics don't much like its syntax, this 
| doesn't make a lot of sense. XTM's syntax was designed from the 
| ground up to represent topic map semantics in XML markup. You can't 
| improve on that (in XML). Any advantages in RDF tools are mitigated 
| by the lack of RDF tools vs. XML tools and frameworks, ie., there's 
| *loads* of XML processing software out there. Besides, XTM processing 
| requirements mean that specialized engines must be used, and these 
| engines must import XTM syntax (and probably ISO 13250 syntax as well),
| so adding some RDF representation would add only significant 
| complexity (and you'd need an RDF schema validator just to be sure
| the document made syntactic sense). Every production-quality XML 
| parser out there can already validate XTM documents, so what's to
| gain?
| I keep hearing this argument but it just never makes sense to me.
| The only "harmonization" I see is perhaps a document describing
| how XTM could map RDF content (as according to a *specific* RDF
| Schema, not RDF in general which is impossible), or vice-versa. 
| We can already do this but a formalization might be valuable. 
| This is pretty simple stuff, and could possibly be considered
| within the scope of the OASIS Published Subject TC.

Amen. I've been wanting to say this for a long time. I'm glad you did. I
really can't understand why so many are so focused on the subject in
particular. There's so many other topic map related areas in which
innovation can happen.

* James David Mason
| Something that was behind the reluctance of certain parties to change SGML
| was an unhealthy competition between SGML and another ISO standard called
| ODA (if you don't know what that was, consider yourself lucky). The SGML/ODA
| Wars occupied entirely too much of our time and promoted an atmosphere of
| paranoia on the parts of several of our members. In the long run, ODA died
| and SGML won, but by then the forces that led to XML were already pushing
| people out of SC34. The technical effect on SGML was mixed: it brought us
| both CONCUR and Architectural Forms. The human effect was much more harmful.
| We don't need a Topic Maps War.
| I believe the current discussion is good because it's getting some issues
| settled, but I worry a bit because I hear echoes of old paranoia in the
| participants. 

The Topic Maps vs. RDF war? Do I see similarities? Paranoia? You bet. ;)

Geir O.