[sc34wg3] Quietly Storming Out

Martin Bryan sc34wg3@isotopicmaps.org
Mon, 17 Nov 2003 08:11:20 -0000


>. And citing "emergency
> situations" only sounds like a politician on a stump. I don't need
> to hear of eschatological scenarios, they're not remotely convincing.
> If a city somewhere establishes emergency services that are reliant
> on bad architectural ideas like arbitrary markup, who's to stop them?
> But since you were the one to inject the scary scenario element in
> this conversation, are you willing to be responsible for any *deaths*
> due to XTM documents that can't be correctly processed because the
> arbitrary markup wasn't interpretable? At least with PCDATA nothing
> is lost, and with links you have at least the URI. If you can't
> predict the markup, you have no guarantee that anything will work.
> And you want to *standardize* that? It's a nonsequitor.

Having spent a week arguing about what it meant to develop pan-European
multilingual emergency services I used that as an example of where you can't
force PCDATA onto Topic Maps. You simply cannot rely on names being the same
country to country: you can rely on the formulae being internationally
recognized. That's why I brought up the need, because users of these types
of system have been arguing for it (and rejecting XTM as a solution
therefore!). And "I" don't "want" to standardize anything, "the emergency
services" "need" to standardize their information sets and provide ways for
people to navigate through them at high speed. If we don't provide them with
the tools to do so then topic maps simply won't get a look in.

> Almost all of the supposedly technical arguments I've heard apply to
> specific applications of Topic Maps where there is no plan or even
> possibility (legally or technically) for interchange....
> Everything I've heard so far has been about proprietary topic map
> systems, not interchange between them.

Your solution seems to be to say that unless you want to interchange data
you should not use XTM but develop some proprietary problem to the
solultion. We cannot afford to ignore the needs of proprietary topic maps,
any more than we can those of interchangeable ones. It is just not
cost-effective to develop proprietary solutions: you need to reduce/share
costs by using reusable technology as often as possible.

> What you're all arguing for
> is simply the false belief that you'll be able to miraculously
> interchange arbitrary markup between systems, a fool's errand if I
> ever heard one.

Who's talking about "interchange between arbitrary markup systems"? I'm
talking about interchange between systems that have compatible markup
systems in agreed scenarios. This is just as valid as the
"one-size-fits-all" approach of existing topic map solutions. We should not
throw this possibility out to support the myth that any topic map system
shoud be able to arbitrarily receive and process in a meaningful way any
topic map.

> Put it simply: if you can provide a cogent argument that shows that
> Eric's, Jim's, your "emergency situation" application could all
> safely and unambiguously (i.e., miraculously) interchange arbitrary
> markup, I'd be convinced. I note that the W3C activity for exchanging
> XML fragments is currently inactive. Anything less than what Paul was
> trying to accomplish with that will not work. With XTM 1.0 you can at
> least interchange at the level that the TopicMaps.Org group had in
> mind. I like to think that was a shared vision:  minimal, but
> functional. You're going to lose that the moment you open up the
> namespace muckgates.

Are you saying that we should allow XML, but not namespaced XML? I could
live with this, but not with the PCDATA only argument. I'd love proper
fragment control, which this won't happen until Paul's group or my DSDL
group come up with something usable unfortunately. The reason for supporting
Dmitry's concept was the fact that if we do allow markup in the text then we
need to confirm what it has been validated against so that we can see if we
have an application that understands that.

> I have no vote in ISO or ability to do anything other than express
> my opinion, and apparently nobody is interested in that so there's
> little point in me continuing. Since I've made my case repeatedly
> and the vocal majority of the list members here seem predisposed to
> make these changes to XTM, let me at this moment state my protest by
> resigning any active involvement in this list.

Your protest has been noted, as have the concerns of others. The problem is
that you are the one in the minority as far as I can see. I don't see
silence from others as being support for the PCDATA only issue, any more
than you would accept the view of just Jim and Eric as part of the view of
the majority.

> Martin, I seem to remember you loudly storming out of the group because
> you disagreed rather violently with the direction it was heading, so
> perhaps it's appropriate I should leave with a message in response to
> you. I've fought long and hard to keep this muck from infecting XTM, but
> you all all seem pretty convinced it's where you're heading. I'll say
> goodbye with a little less noise, and very sorry to see a good thing --
> something into which I personally and professionally have invested an
> enormous amount of time and energy -- ruined, turned into yet another
> namespace muckfest.

I was trying to suggest a way of reducing the size of your muckfest to
manageable proportions (one namespace only). I have stormed out of the XTM
group. I'm about to submit another rant from a user of topic maps to the
group in support of my position even though I don't expect anyone on the
group to listen to it. Users needs don't seem to have any effect on the
group, which has come more and more to be seen as a developer's clique
imposing restrictions on potential users to the extent that they might as
well forget about the original ideas of topic maps. [end of rant:-)]

Martin Bryan
IS-Thought: Thinkers for the Information Society
29 Oldbury Orchard, Churchdown, Glos. GL3 2PU, UK
Phone: +44 1452 714029 Fax: +44 1452 859991
E-mail: martin@is-thought.co.uk