[sc34wg3] www.topicmaps.com (and topicmaps.org)

Murray Altheim sc34wg3@isotopicmaps.org
Wed, 12 Oct 2005 13:05:17 +0100

Steve Pepper wrote:
> This also raises the question of what to do about topicmaps.org.
> It was frozen in 2001 because of disagreements in an organization,
> TopicMaps.Org, which no longer exists. The question is, is the
> community's interest served by allowing it to continue to give the
> impression that nothing has happened with Topic Maps since 2001?
> I personally would like to see it closed down with a redirect to
> topicmaps.com. If it is not to be closed down, the home page
> should at least contain a prominently displayed notice informing
> readers about the status of the site.
> What do others think? Do we have any idea how many hits the site
> gets?

I don't think the number of hits is relevant. I'm dismayed to
see that the current site does not (as do many places where
standards and specifications are provided online) contain
backlinks to the earlier versions of the XTM 1.0 Specification,
specifically the December 4th "AG Review" version, where there
was still a quorum that could be considered TopicMaps.Org, i.e.,
that group of people who stood together on a stage. That document
remains important for both historical and community interest.
I don't mean to open up those old wounds, but they in large
part exist because of a lack of concern over the technical as
well as emotional needs of our community (without even venturing
into the legal). I would *truly* hope that this would not be
repeated once again by pulling the site offline, erasing the
remaining history.

As for modifying the site with some prominent notice or making
severe alterations (such as removing the content and replacing
it with solely a notice), I think that would be a similar
violence. If there's any question as to how this can be done
in a more reasonable way, I would suggest checking the Dublin
Core site, particularly


DCMI labels superceded documents on their index page, and then
on the actual document they simply add a line stating the
document "has been replaced by" and a link to the new one. Their
old documents remain a DCMI Recommendation (as they should),
even after being superceded. There is no attempt to hide, cover,
or remove historical documents. They are also important when
upgrading legacy software and documentation.

After having worked with Doug Engelbart and absorbed his ideas
on community memory, and as a new librarian of sorts, I'm now
even more shocked at how callously the historical works of this
community have been treated, content that has real historical
value to the community. E.g., I *really* could have used an
online reference to that December 4th document a few weeks ago
for UK immigration purposes, and yes, that did make me angry
once again -- needlessly -- as it should be online and backlinked
from the current one. For those of us who worked hard to have
that December 9th deadline met, I hope you can understand that
even after all this time it is still a sore point and will remain
so until it is reposted, which I don't think is an unreasonable
request -- and no one person has the right to be a gatekeeper
to the work of the group. And nobody should be offended to have
those documents, the work of the group, online again.

Beyond that, the topicmaps.org domain, and specifically the
URLs associated with the XTM 1.0 Specification, must for prosaic
technical reasons remain live, and with all the resources in
place. Even with release of a newer version of XTM, the DTDs and
XTM/PSI documents that are currently there need to be available
for HTTP resolution for existing software. If a transparent
redirect to those documents were made available on a newer site
hosted elsewhere, that would of course be fine.

To reiterate: I would truly hope that we don't repeat the history
of removing our own history. There was damage done the first time,
and perhaps a lesson might be learned from that. The community's
interests are *strongly* served by careful maintenance of its
historical documents. I don't know how this could be in question.

I will also repeat the request that at the point when changes are
made to the topicmaps.org site that the December 9th version of
the XTM 1.0 Specification be reposted. If the copy that was on
the topicmaps.org web site is no longer there, I have the entirety
of the historical documents from both topicmaps.org at the point
at which we published the "AG Review Specification" for public
announcement on December 9th, 2000, plus the corpus of the original
doctypes.org site where we stored all of our development materials.
I'm willing to make these materials available for republication
upon request.

Alternately, I'm also willing to host topicmaps.org as a historical
site, and would provide notices and forward links to the current
ISO work as appropriate. I would then include the entire corpus of
the historical documents. I think this would be a valuable addition
to the Topic Maps community, whoever were to host it.


Murray Altheim                          http://www.altheim.com/murray/
Strategic Services Development Manager
The Open University Library and Learning Resources Centre
The Open University, Milton Keynes, Bucks, MK7 6AA, UK               .

      All you have to do is spend any time around any scientists or
      academics to discover that they all disagree with each other
      and believe that their way of doing it is the only right and
      true way and that nobody else knows anything. -- Neil Gaiman