Public identifiers and topic maps

Martin Bryan mtbryan at
Sun Sep 27 13:59:24 BST 1998

Steve wrote:
>Everybody who creates a topic map needs to decide for themselves whose
>names and namespaces they choose to regard as authoritative.  Joe
>Author must, in all cases, be the ultimate meta-authority who decides
>what authority he will regard as authoritative for the purpose of
>helping him to refer to a topic.  Joe Author's choice of authority
>will normally be made on the basis of his assessment of what is most
>likely to be meaningful to the topic map's intended audience(s).

But it is Joe Author who is the owner of the public text. He's the one with
access to the copy of the document that is being referenced. It is what is
said in his copy of the source that matters.

Let me ask you this. If Joe Author defines to make the subject of his topic
something in the Book of Kells, who should he cite as the owner: the monk
who wrote the book, Eadfrith, Bishop of Lindersfarne at the time it was
written, Lindersfarne Abbey (abandoned following Danish raids in 875),
Trinity College Dublin who I believe hold the original when it is not out on
loan, the local library where Joe Author borrowed a facsimile from to look
up the topic, or the TEI initiative's electronic encoding of the Book of

>> Steve owns the name but I own the resource.  Nothing in the name
>> indicates who owns the resource, in this case. (It could, but that
>> would be up to Steve and his design for a cataloging scheme).

And nothing needs to. What the public text should do is resolve who you
should go to for the official definition, and how he will recognize one such
definition from another in his local catalogue of meanings. This is what
FPIs do.

Martin Bryan

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