Public identifiers and topic maps

Steven R. Newcomb srn at
Sat Sep 26 01:15:16 BST 1998

> Date: Fri, 25 Sep 1998 17:20:41 -0400
> From: John Cowan <cowan at>
> Organization: Lojban Peripheral
> The current draft of ISO/IEC 13250, Topic Navigation Maps (a
> standard architectural form) explicitly takes Steven Newcomb's
> view of the meaning of owner identifiers in FPIs: scarcely surprising,
> since he is one of the editors.
> In particular, clasue 6.1.1 reads in part:
> # [T]he registration indicator, public text class, and language fields
> # are as specified for formal public identifiers in ISO/IEC 8879:1986.
> # The 'topic authority' [the string after the "+//" or "-//"] is
> # the owner of <em>the information resource</em> that defines the
> # concept.  [Emphasis added.]
> SGML tribal elders (a set which I am not a member of) may wish to
> protest this language and similar language elsewhere in the draft
> before it becomes hard-coded in an ISO standard.

Yes.  John has done some homework and he has discovered why I brought
this matter up in this forum: in general I think it's better to get
consensus *before* a standard is published.  Several luminaries have
now argued in this forum against the FPI-based methodology we have
proposed in the Topic Navigation Map draft.  Now is the time to fix
this.  All reasonable suggestions are welcome; please suggest now.

What's needed is a way to reference authoritative materials as a way
of identifying "public topics".  A "public topic" is a concept or
subject that has a specifiable unique name in a specifiable namespace
created and/or managed by a specifiable authority on the topic, and
that is referenced as a public topic by anybody who wants to regard
the authority as an authority and the topic as a public topic,
regardless of whether the authority's namespace is online.  Really,
it's a bibliographic reference with certain very broad constraints and
used for a particular purpose.  I repeat my example:

Authority: Sears, Roebuck & Company
Namespace: 1922 Farm Catalog
     Name: [catalog number] R204

Should we be using a (subtype of?) bibloc for this purpose, perhaps
using the bibloc as a location source for a (subtype of?) namespace
location address?

[John, you are already on your way to becoming an SGML tribal elder,
yourself.  If you don't want that to happen, you'll have to try harder
to avoid being quite so helpful to the cause! (:^) ]


Steven R. Newcomb, President, TechnoTeacher, Inc.
srn at

voice: +1 972 231 4098 (at ISOGEN: +1 214 953 0004 x137)
fax    +1 972 994 0087 (at ISOGEN: +1 214 953 3152)

3615 Tanner Lane
Richardson, Texas 75082-2618 USA

xml-dev: A list for W3C XML Developers. To post, mailto:xml-dev at
Archived as:
To (un)subscribe, mailto:majordomo at the following message;
(un)subscribe xml-dev
To subscribe to the digests, mailto:majordomo at the following message;
subscribe xml-dev-digest
List coordinator, Henry Rzepa (mailto:rzepa at

More information about the Xml-dev mailing list