[sc34wg3] Topic Maps Reference Model posted (new draft)

Bernard Vatant sc34wg3@isotopicmaps.org
Mon, 28 Feb 2005 23:57:25 +0100

Patrick and all

Some first comments on the new TMRM

First point that strikes me is that main (only?) focus is now really on *subject
identification process* - unless I have a strong personal bias towards seeing my own
obsessions everywhere. A TMA appears to me as nothing more than a context in which a
certain set of *subject identification rules* hold - which should be made explicit by the
TMA in order to be interoperable with other contexts.
The document still speaks, though, but IMO more out of an old habit than anything else,
about *subject identity* as something that could, at least in theory, be defined in some
absolute way. But actually it is mainly interested in *ways of identifying subjects* by
comparing their proxies' properties in a given TMA context, or across several contexts.
Accordingly, it implicitly admits that definition of any absolute identification process,
IOW definition of absolute subject identity outside the context of any TMA, is neither
feasible, nor even desirable. Very much agreed!
My hunch is that the next step will be to get rid altogether of the notion of (absolute)
subject identity, the same way in the last century Quantum Mechanics has get rid of the
notion of (absolute) real-world object. The same way a quantic object only appears (IOW
"comes to existence") through some interaction with the observer, a subject always appears
in some process of conversation between various actors - humans and/or computers. And the
same way non-ambiguous interpretation of a quantic experiment is possible through a
well-defined explicit experimentation protocol, non-ambiguous subject identification needs
a well-defined explicit processing context (call it TMA if you like).
All in all, it goes in the direction a bunch of people have been trying to plough for
quite a while now in various places, and that I keep tracking on universimmedia blog.
Strangely enough, all the references in Annex A had been posted lately there ... such a
convergence makes me figure that something is in the air. Either we are all go wrong
together, or it's really the way ahead now.

Second point is that disclosure of identification rules is certainly a necessary condition
to allow interoperability across various TMA, but I'm convinced it will never be
sufficient to ensure "universal" interoperability.

Quoting the introduction

"... indications of subjects are recognized only within limited ontological, cultural
and/or technological contexts. If we want to gather all the information about a given
subject but the ways in which the subject is indicated are ontologically, culturally,
and/or technologically diverse, our task is only possible if we know what those ways are,
and how they work."

I agree with the first sentence, but would happily restrain the second one to acknowledge
that all we can expect is to provide ways to extend as far as possible contexts of
identification, across various TMA using different identification rules, providing those
rules are not as different as even their sheer comparison becomes impossible. There is a
breaking point where comparison of rules would need either some universal rule language,
or the recursive exercise of identification of concepts used by the rules exposed ...

IOW, it would be sensible for the document to acknowledge the limits of the process it
defines, and the relativity of its central concept, subject identity (switching to subject
identification). That would not make the RM less universal. On the opposite, to
acknowledge identification relativity, but providing tools to arbitrarily extend the
context in which it can be applied, is in fact more powerful that pretend to grasp
universal identity.

My 0.02



Bernard Vatant
Senior Consultant
Knowledge Engineering

"Making Sense of Content" :  http://www.mondeca.com
"Everything is a Subject" :  http://universimmedia.blogspot.com


> -----Message d'origine-----
> De : sc34wg3-admin@isotopicmaps.org
> [mailto:sc34wg3-admin@isotopicmaps.org]De la part de Patrick Durusau
> Envoye : samedi 26 fevrier 2005 22:34
> A : sc34wg3
> Objet : [sc34wg3] Topic Maps Reference Model posted (new draft)
> Greetings!
> Just a quick note to let everyone know that a new version of the Topic
> Maps Reference Model was posted earlier this month.
> http://www.isotopicmaps.org/TMRM/TMRM-5.0/TMRM-5.0.pdf
> (or in HTML: http://www.isotopicmaps.org/TMRM/TMRM-5.0/TMRM-5.0.html)
> This will be balloted (CD) prior to the meeting in Amsterdam in May.
> Comments, suggestions and discussion are welcome.
> Hope everyone is having a great day!
> Patrick
> --
> Patrick Durusau
> Director of Research and Development
> Society of Biblical Literature
> Patrick.Durusau@sbl-site.org
> Chair, V1 - Text Processing: Office and Publishing Systems Interface
> Co-Editor, ISO 13250, Topic Maps -- Reference Model
> Topic Maps: Human, not artificial, intelligence at work!
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