[sc34wg3] New TMCL slides: pinging LMG's intuition about role-type subjects

Lars Marius Garshol larsga at garshol.priv.no
Tue Nov 24 13:28:01 EST 2009

* Steve Newcomb
> So, if the role "buyer" (as reified by a topic we'll call "buyer") appears in another *kind* (type) of relationship -- i.e., one that is characterizable as a different set of role types -- then that topic must have two different subjects. And that's forbidden in topic maps. If we start to wink at topics that have more than one subject, all is lost, it seems to me.

You can certainly make this argument, although personally I'm not sure I'm convinced. Can't there be more than one kind of "buyer", all collectively represented by one topic? If we allow subtyping of association types and role types, then there's bound to be role types which can appear in different relationships, at least via their subtypes.

> This seems like a pretty fundamental question to me. Is there no other way forward? How important is one-subject-per-topic to the community? How important is it that Topic Maps has a shared understanding of the semantics of associations, and the semantics of association types, as being relationships and kinds of relationships, respectively? These things are very important to me, but not necessarily important to others.

I think these are things which it would be very valuable to have, but I'm not sure if we can really achieve it. Making everyone think the same way about something is generally not easily achieved. We've had 13 years (since the publication of ISO 13250) to do it, and if we're still not there...

And then there's the question of timing. What we should be doing right now is putting the finishing touches to TMCL, not throwing it all away and starting over. We started this work in 2001. Now we have something that's, in the opinion of the editors, firm enough to be implemented. 

Personally, I think that's something that's not to be sacrificed easily. In fact, I think that finishing TMCL quickly is more important than most other things.

I'm sorry if I sound a bit dimissive here of your long and carefully-tought-out posting, but I really just want to finish this standard. Right now, getting a standard is much more important than getting a perfect one.

--Lars M.

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