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RE: [xml-dev] The authority-distribution problem

Negotiated meaning:  buy-in from some group informal or formal for
documented menanting and rights to change or approve changes to that
agreement.  Notice the agreement and meaning are two different documents.

Costs vary by requirements.  If it is a standard, there may be
agency/consortia/organization policies for how these decisions are made.  If
buy-in is not complete you get the OOXML debacle (I won't say which side is
the most debac-ed) but the problem is the same.   Topic maps provide a means
to document agreements as well as a system for implementing them in a
readable navigable form.  This works well for human readers.   RDF and the
semantic web provide a means for machines to check agreements and make

A problem with solutions that attempt to document the meaning for multiple
communities is they may have different syntactical requirements for
documenting that.

Another problem is the agreement has to account for the meaning drifting
over time (so management rights to make changes to the Record of Authority).
IOW, take a simple example such as XML.  Is it not changing because
requirements are not changing or because the overall cost impact to the
entire user community is too great to allow a smaller groups needs to be met
(needs of the many vs the few or the one).

There are solutions.  The problems are will and cause.

This is a never ending problem with a managed solution and a maintenance
cost.  To make that more manageable and to keep the costs in line with small
communities, it can be best to manage separate agreements (and schemas) even
if they have meanings with multiple communities (overlaps).  Otherwise the
cost of consensus includes the time to agree and that can be greater than
the benefits of sharing.

So in the end you must look at the sharing itself and ask how many and what
kinds of transactions (messages) are actually shared (not potentially but
actually).  Until you understand the traffic, you don't know where to put
the traffic lights and the signs.


-----Original Message-----
From: Costello, Roger L. [mailto:costello@mitre.org] 
Sent: Monday, July 14, 2008 3:13 PM
To: xml-dev@lists.xml.org
Subject: [xml-dev] The authority-distribution problem

Hi Folks,

Last week Steve Newcomb sent a message to this list [1] that has me
very intrigued.  In his message he is hinting at problems, and hinting
there is a better way.  Consider these snippets of his message:

   The problem keeps coming up: how to distribute, 
   and limit the distribution, of authority over a 
   large-community-wide document type, among smaller 

   Top-down authority over document types simply 
   can't work across diverse human communities.

   The authority-distribution problem.

   Distribution of semantic authority.

   The W3C's focus on machine-to-machine communication 
   and AI left little room for questions about human 

   Different communities communicate differently within 
   themselves, and their syntaxes need to evolve in 
   different contexts with ever-diverging requirements.

   XML namespace fiasco

   This story is very far from being over


1. What is "the authority-distribution problem"?

2. What does it mean to "distribute semantic authority"?

3. What story is far from over?


[1] http://lists.xml.org/archives/xml-dev/200807/msg00024.html


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