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Subject: Registration Autorities and PSIs (was: RE: [xtm-wg] Fixing langua ge.xtm and country.xtm)

When I brought up Registration Authorities and permanent locations of things
online, I wasn't intending to get a long discussion going, just to point out
that there are more issues than just fixing up the files Murray had done
some months ago.

I agree with those who say that we won't get anything settled until the
various interested groups meet in Montréal.

I am not taking a formal position on (1) whether PSI thingies must be
accessible online or (2) if the answer to 1 is affirmative, who should be

I personally prefer to be able to get at things on line. That's why I have a
running battle with the ISO bureaucracy and maintain an open site with ALL
of SC34's documents that I can get in electronic form
(http://www.y12.doe.gov/sgml/sc34/sc34oldhome.htm). (The official site tends
to lock up things like drafts of proposed standards like TMQL, preventing
the very sort of open discussion we need.)

I don't like brain-dead URLs in namespaces. However, I recognize that a
certain part of the online community isn't disturbed by that. 

I also recognize that a number of people, starting with Charles Goldfarb,
have preferred self-registration schemes (e.g., ISO 9070) those run without

My long-term concern is that if we do decide that there are certain PSIs
that not only are needed for Topic Maps to work but also need to be
accessible, then those things need to be in some reliable place. The Net is
entirely too squishily unstable for me to place much confidence in finding
anything other than a 404 error at the end of a lot of links. I don't want
that to happen with PSIs.

Though I hate bureaucracies, they have their uses. One of those uses is
stability (any bureaucracy will fight tooth and claw for its own survival)
when you need something kept. 

 (Having been trained in traditional research disciplines, I firmly believe
that if someone cites something in a footnote, I ought to be able to go to
some library, find a copy of the document in question, go to the location
cited, and therein find the data cited. My wife has just been editing a
supposedly scholarly book that is entirely too dependent on references like
"private communication with the author": I find that utterly repugnant. It's
in the same class with one of my mother-in-law's students who turned in a
term paper with a footnote that said "look for it". I am reminded of those
monkish writers of six or seven centuries ago who liked to cite authorities
like "It is said by one of the Church Fathers".) 

Jim Mason

> -----Original Message-----
> From:	Lars Marius Garshol [SMTP:larsga@garshol.priv.no]
> Sent:	Tuesday, June 26, 2001 3:10 PM
> To:	xtm-wg@yahoogroups.com
> Subject:	Re: [xtm-wg] Fixing language.xtm and country.xtm
> * James David Mason
> |
> | What this group (no matter what its current name is or how it's
> | chartered or under whose auspices it's running) has come up against
> | is a problem that we ran into long ago in ISO: the need for
> | registration authorities.
> Well, do we actually need a registration authority? The problem with
> those is that you need to run a central bureaucracy able to scale with
> the use of the RA, and that it raises the bar for defining PSIs.
> The web/internet way of doing things is to avoid RAs as far as
> possible, and I guess that would make sense in this case as well.
> What problems do you think an RA would solve, that doing without an RA
> would land us in? 
> | UNICODE/ISO 10646 is just a list of coded characters. That is, it
> | just deals with bit combinations (or hex representations
> | . . .). Althought the published versions of the standard show
> | printable characters associated with the bit combinations, those
> | actually aren't standardized.
> This is actually not correct. Unicode is actually a large database
> with information about every character such as names, case mappings,
> category information, joining behaviour, directionality, mirroring,
> decompositions, and so on.
> | There are some PSIs attached to XTM that really need to be online in
> | a fixed place (we don't want the typical XML Namespace dead URI
> | problem). Those PSIs are even more fundamental than country.xtm and
> | language.xtm. They really need to be in a PERMANENT place. One idea
> | that has been suggested is that they need PURLs, and the place for
> | PURLs is, of course, OCLC.
> Actually, I disagree that the PSIs need to be online. The PSIs are
> URIs, not resources, so what they resolve to is immaterial. The
> document that defines them needs to be online and permanent, but the
> URIs that are the PSIs have no such needs. The URIs, as defined by the
> document, are stable, no matter what they do or do not resolve to.
> | Actually we need two things: (1) a standard to provide for the RA
> | and (2) the RA itself. Item 1 is appropriate work for SC34 (those of
> | you who work in SC34, start thinking about it!); Item 2 might be
> | something OASIS could do.
> If we do agree that we want an RA this sounds sensible to me.
> --Lars M.
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