[sc34wg3] Editorial structure of N0396

Sam Hunting sc34wg3@isotopicmaps.org
Mon, 21 Apr 2003 22:04:49 -0400 (EDT)

Comments interspersed.

> Patrick Durusau:
> > | 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.
> > 
> > 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.
> > 
> > We've spent two whole years doing *nothing* except fix the bugs of
> > HyTM and XTM. We need to move on.

> I agree with Patrick. A standard is the result of a consensus.

More important than what any person says is what *ISO* says -- and indeed
ISO says exactly this -- that standards are the result of a
consensus-based process.

Moreover, I would argue, FWIW, that they are the result of consensus about
a text as submitted -- not consensus about an imagined text that might one
day be written. (See the original posting on the non-conformance of
N0396, about which all agree.)

N0396 has a note that reads "Rewrite this document in the correct style
for an ISO standard." Until this is done -- and doing this seems to me the
best way to "move on" -- I don't see how it is possible to come to
consensus, since there is no text to come to a consensus about. 

> It's not a power game between defenders of such or such perspective.

In my experience the sort of characterization above is an indulgence best
not engaged in -- and I know, having indulged plenty myself.

> There is no way you can avoid the work it takes to put things together,
> so that they make sense for all players involved in the topic maps
> standard group, and therefore for the impacted industry. 

Well, there may be a way, but it is not clear to me that there is a way to
do this and at the same time conform to the ISO process.

> It's ludicrous to speak of interoperability if the
> group of experts who claim to be the expert group on interoperable
> information and knowledge is not able to make the various parts of 
> the standard fully complement each other and be interoperable. 

Well, the Martian reading this says that the parts of standards aren't
interoperable.... And I'm not sure these chracterizations are useful

> It may or may not take more time, but we'll end up with a stronger 
> standard, that will fit the common interests of involved parties. 
> Every one has to fully understand what the others have done. 
> That's the condition to move forward. Otherwise, it's not a standard,
> it's a joke.

Ditto characterization.

Personally, I think Patrick's thinking on a single standard is useful and
potentially a way forward. (In some ways, it reminds me of the famous
story where Michel and Steve Newcomb were locked into a motel room by
Bryan Bell.. ;-)

My (vague) recollection of the reason for separate documents was length.
We didn't want to publish a 100 page document and then tell people to
split it up for readability. But under the gentle ministrations of members
of the US and UK delegation -- which took place after the cote to go the
separate document route -- N0393 got drastically shorter. Presumably the
same could be done for the combination of N0393 and N0396. 

As for "moving on" -- no one seems to have thought to ask Patrick how long
he thinks it would take to produce a unified text. Patrick?

> Michel
> ===================================
> Michel Biezunski
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Sam Hunting
eTopicality, Inc.

Co-editor:  ISO Reference Model for Topic Maps 
  Topic map consulting and training: www.etopicality.com
Free open source topic map tools:  www.gooseworks.org
  XML Topic Maps: Creating and Using Topic Maps for the Web.
Addison-Wesley, ISBN 0-201-74960-2.