[sc34wg3] Editorial structure of N0396

Patrick Durusau sc34wg3@isotopicmaps.org
Mon, 21 Apr 2003 20:05:20 -0400


Lars Marius Garshol wrote:


>| 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. 
>There was consensus then. There does appear to be some dissent now,
>and I think you'll find that on both sides of the table there are
>people who want to change the original plan. I'm still happy with it,
>but that's not to say we can't discuss changing it. But then let's
>call a spade a spade and say "I want to change the plan!"; there's
>nothing criminal about that.
While I am glad to learn I have not strayed into advocating criminal 
acts, ;-), I am still puzzled by the equivalence of saying there was no 
consensus on the content of the various parts with changing the plan. I 
suppose my assumption was that agreeing to a division into parts not yet 
written did not mean agreement on the content that appears after the 
agreement. That would be like person One agreeing write a contract for 
person Two to buy a house and person Two agrees to write a contract to 
employ person One. They have agreed who will write what contract but 
that does not indicate (to me at any rate) that they have agreed on all 
the details that will be in each contract.


>| 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.
>Is this simply a request that we all sit down with blank sheets to
>redraw the map when we meet in London? If so, that request has already
>been turned down several times. We can't continue this death march
>towards the perfect model. I'm sympathetic to the idea of a single
>model, but I a) don't think we need it and b) despair of us achieving
>it before the momentum that we have built up is gone, and therefore I
>think the only way forward has to be to send what we have to Committee
>Draft status and move on to the real work: TMCL and TMQL.
Request to redraw the map? No, I think this post along with my prior one 
about the division of work, as opposed to consensus on the work, would 
indicate that drawing/redrawing either current or new divisions would 
not be a productive exercise.

I don't think asking for conformance, for example, that works across the 
various parts, even assuming the current divisions, is a quest for a 
perfect model. It is a request for a standard that makes certain things 
standard and uses them consistently.

Sorry to disagree after so much harmony on the list but I can't agree 
that the "real work" is limited to TMCL and TMQL. That is in no way to 
diminish the importance of those parts, but as Steve Pepper remarked to 
me recently, it is very hard to build topic map software in the absence 
of a data model. That the SAM is one answer to the need for a data model 
does not indicate to me that it is the only such answer or that data 
models for topic maps are now a closed issue. The near agreement (at 
least as I see it) between Steve Newcomb and Steve Pepper on them 
importance of accessing all the information about a topic from a single 
location in a topic map seems to me to be another bit of important work 
that needs attention.

I am not suggesting that we need to deliberately loose momentum but I am 
not sure that sending what we have forth as final answers, while there 
are serious and principled arguments on both sides of the proposed 
answers, is the only way to avoid loosing momentum.

>We've spent two whole years doing *nothing* except fix the bugs of
>HyTM and XTM. We need to move on.
Sorry, I don't think it is fair to you to say that you have only been 
fixing bugs in HyTM and XTM for the last two years. You have made 
substantial advances on a number of fronts and while I may disagree with 
parts of it, there is no way I would say you have simply been fixing bugs.

I think it is possible to "move on" as you say without burning bridges 
behind us as though our answers will be the same two years from now as 
they are today. I would certainly hope that some of our answers will 
change over time as experience is gained with implementations and 
building topic map instances. If they don't, well, I would say we have 
not been paying very close attention. Not seeking the perfect model and 
don't recall ever saying that I was looking for it. Do think we need to 
make sure that any model we have at hand is really the one we want 
before deciding to look no further.

I will be in London from the morning of May 1st in case anyone wants to 
catch a cup of coffee (or the beverage of your choice) before the 
meetings begin.


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