[sc34wg3] Editorial structure of N0396

Patrick Durusau sc34wg3@isotopicmaps.org
Mon, 21 Apr 2003 09:38:36 -0400


Lars Marius Garshol wrote:


>| Re: the "road map", what was agreed to, what that means, and the way
>| forward, see Patrick Durusau at:
>|    http://www.isotopicmaps.org/pipermail/sc34wg3/2003-April/001430.html
>Look, N0358, the official New Work Item Proposal has a cross on the
>line for multi-part standard. As you'll see from N0388 that propsal
>was approved with 8 yes votes and 0 no votes.
>So what, exactly, is the problem? Only that the SAM abstract doesn't
>unambiguously spell it out, or something more?
Something more actually.

Without a lot of fancy dancing on one side of the line or the other, 
here is how I see the problem:

Yes, N0358 says "multi-part standard," yes it got 8 yes votes.

As I tried to point out in the post Sam cites above, what we need is a 
standard, whether mutli-part, single or in some higher plane of order, 
that represents a conherent and consistent view of topic maps. Having 
separate parts, even if "agreed upon" that represent varying views, 
models, conformance requirements and the like, does not seem to me to be 
consistent with either ISO process or a useful standard.

Imagine ISO 8879 if Charles had written the concrete syntax section and 
Martin, who has avowed that it is unnecessary, wrote the conformance 
section saying you could use it or not as you saw fit. (Apologies to 
both Charles and Martin but I needed an example that would make sense to 
this group.)

That at various times WG3 has agreed upon names for various parts does 
not (to me at any rate) indicate consensus on the content of the various 
named parts. All that I am asking for is a discussion devoid of citation 
of prior names and agreements (by anyone) so we can reach a consensus on 
the substance that will form the multi/single standard. You will note 
that Jim Mason has indicated that he still prefers a single standard and 
I personally don't see the difficulty with that approach.

Yes, that would be at variance with the prior "agreement" but since 
legislatures amend, repeal and revise legislation, courts extend, 
contract and sometimes reverse prior decisions, I see no reason why SC34 
cannot make the best decisions it can at any point in time. If it 
discovers a better way of stating content, organizing a draft, arranging 
groups to do the work of the committee, it should make new decisions 
that advance the work at hand.

Actually I would support Jim's suggestion that we simply drop the names 
and recognize that we are all talking about topic maps and that we all 
want topic maps to progress as rapidly as possible. To do that, means 
that we need to adhere more closely to the ISO procedures, not because I 
am particularly fond of rules for rules sake, but because they are 
designed to achieve consensus on substance as opposed to consensus on 
names which adherents can fill with whatever content they see fit.

Having said all that, let me note that I am in complete agreement with 
Steve Pepper that having a data model will encourage more rapid 
development of topic map software and the adoption of topic maps more 
generally. I am also in complete agreement with Steve Newcomb that the 
essence of topic maps is being able to locate all the information 
related to a topic from a single location, a concept that Steve Pepper 
calls the "colocation objective." (There are other nuances to those 
positions but I think that if we have a frank discussion of the 
substance, as opposed to scoring procedural points, we can work those 
out. This group has some of the brightest people I have met in 3 
separate professional careers and I have no doubt the ability exists to 
reach a consensus that will advance topic maps.)

What I think needs to happen is for the various groups that have formed 
around particular names need to break up and work on a consensus for the 
benefit of topic map generally and not advance/defend "my (insert part 
name)." Whether that results in a multi-part standard or a single part 
standard, makes little difference in terms of conformance, for example, 
which would have to be consistent across the multi-parts as well as 
(hopefully) in a single part standard.


Patrick Durusau
Director of Research and Development
Society of Biblical Literature
Co-Editor, ISO Reference Model for Topic Maps