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Re: [VM,ALL] Revised scope statement

From: Thomas Baker <thomas.baker@bi.fhg.de>
Date: Thu, 17 Jun 2004 05:29:55 +0200
To: Bernard Vatant <bernard.vatant@mondeca.com>
Cc: Thomas Baker <thomas.baker@izb.fraunhofer.de>, SW Best Practices <public-swbp-wg@w3.org>
Message-ID: <20040617032955.GA936@Octavius>

On Wed, Jun 16, 2004 at 06:05:18PM +0200, Bernard Vatant wrote:
> I have a few general comments about this TF proposal.
> 
> 1. Seems to me there is a great deal of overlap with PORT, alias THES, TF. In fact, I
> understand VM work to be in many respects an extension or generalization of THES work,
> since a Thesaurus is a specific organization of a Vocabulary for a specific application
> (unless I miss something). How will the two TF define their specific scope?

According to http://www.w3.org/2004/03/thes-tf/mission, the
THES/PORT Task Force wants to focus on guidelines and tools
for representing structured vocabularies using RDF/OWL.  

To my way of thinking, the Vocabulary Management TF would,
in contrast, focus on the identification of terms (and of
versions of terms and sets of terms) and on policies and
practices related to the identification of terms.

I sense that we might plausibly agree on some basic principles
regarding identification and on the need to articulate one's
policies, but that there is still "an evolving diversity" of
approaches towards documenting, representing, and publishing
a vocabulary.

But that's okay -- at that point, the VM TF could simply point
off to other documents and practices such as the the THES/PORT
TF note and the OASIS Published Subjects work you cite below.

> 2. I share the concern expressed by Alan about "terminological" vs "conceptual" approaches
> of Vocabulary, and the need for clarification about it in the SW community. SKOS input is
> certainly to be brought to the table, as well as current debates about use of dc:subject
> in various places.

My instinct would be to cite such debates where appropriate
but to put alot of these issues out of scope for the VM TF
note itself and focus on lower-hanging fruit.  For example,
can we agree that terms should be both identified with URIs
and labelled with human language?

> 3. It strikes me how the scope and objectives are quite similar to those we set three
> years ago when founding the OASIS Published Subjects Technical Committee:
> http://www.oasis-open.org/committees/tc_home.php?wg_abbrev=tm-pubsubj
> Note that this TC work has been in sort of standby for a year or so, out of both lack of
> task force, and lack of consensus about how to tackle further deep the details of very
> difficult issues left on the table:
> http://www.oasis-open.org/committees/tm-pubsubj/docs/recommendations/issues.htm
> even if a very generic recommendation was eventually released in 2003:
> http://www.oasis-open.org/committees/download.php/3050/pubsubj-pt1-1.02-cs.pdf
> 
> I hope this work "as is" could be food for thought for this TF.

The generic recommendation is nicely written.  I read it as
saying, in essence: "Subject headings intended for use with
Topic Maps should be identified with URIs, labelled with human
language, accompanied with a statement of intended use, and
described with metadata."  If this paraphrase does justice
to the recommendation, then it would seem to fit perfectly
with what I think the VM TF note should say.

The open issues, on the other hand, seem to shade off into
community-specific philosophy with regard to the nature of the
terms identified and of the relationships among terms.  They
reflect that "evolving diversity" of choices about which "good
practice" may for valid historical reasons be still unclear --
things like "# versus /", the descriptive attributes of terms,
and details on publishing related documentation and metadata.

Again, for such issues of "evolving diversity", I think the
VM TF note should simply summarize and point to ongoing work.
The VM TF membership would be hopefully diverse enough that we
could among ourselves come up with a reasonably representative
set of relevant citations.

> Looking into the details, I found at least a dozen of very difficult and open issues on
> the table. The objective of capturing the state of the art for all of them in a single
> technical note seems highly challenging, to say the least. So I was about to say "count me
> in" for this TF ... but OTOH I'm a bit scared to get lost again in a known maze :(

It was precisely this fear that motivated me to ask for a
conference call.  I agree we could easily get bogged down by
wading too far into detail.  The diversity of trees, however,
should perhaps not prevent us from stepping back and describing
the forest.

Tom

-- 
Dr. Thomas Baker                        Thomas.Baker@izb.fraunhofer.de
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Personal email: thbaker79@alumni.amherst.edu
Received on Wednesday, 16 June 2004 23:29:03 UTC

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