[sc34wg3] Topic Maps land and SAM land

Michel Biezunski sc34wg3@isotopicmaps.org
Mon, 10 Feb 2003 08:59:11 -0500

* Lars:

> That's an unusually perceptive statement. What we did was to convert
> the information to RDF first (which is very close to the RM, so in
> that sense you are right) and from there we mapped it to topic maps,
> pretty much in the way you describe.

RM is (or is intended to be) as close as Topic Maps as it can be.
It actually is even worse than that. It aims at expressing what TM
actually are. Or if you prefer, how they work internally.

The subject location uniqueness is fundamentally what topic maps are
about. The rest is derived. Get a subject? Here is a topic to put it.
And then topics can be related in whatever way is wanted.

RDF proceeds with statements. It is directed. There is an origin
and an end. It's difficult in RDF to say something about the same
given subject involved in another statement because there is no
built-in solid mechanism to make these subjects the same. RDF is built
on a predicative logic in other terms.

The fact that RDF is a graph and TM is expressed as a graph is
a side issue. Taking this as a reason to say they are similar
is like saying Shakespeare and SGML are similar because they both
use the English language. Which, seen from a certain remote perspective,
is actually not false. But not really useful...

It's my impression that you are putting more focus on formalism
than on what is expressed. This is why I am advocating for
getting to the proper level of abstraction. Let's forget the
formalism for a moment, and discuss the content. If you do that,
you'll see that RM *is* TM -- not in the sense that it is 
"on the TM side" but it is what TM is. Same thing with SAM.
SAM *is* TM and actually reflects faithfully a number of implementations
of it. The whole issue is to be sure that the number of applications
that TM covers is wide open enough to accommodate applications that
do not necessarily exist yet. This is a similar exercise that we
had to do for the first edition of ISO 13250, before most current
applications existed.

Michel Biezunski
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