[topicmapmail] Are Topic Maps dead?

Trond K. Pettersen trond.pettersen at bouvet.no
Fri Jun 27 12:49:45 EDT 2008


Are Gulbrandsen wrote:
> On 27. juni. 2008, at 13.15, Are Gulbrandsen wrote:
>> - Much of the conversation has moved into the blogosphere.
> Just as a case in point, this discussion thread has now entered the  
> blogosphere, where Dan Brickley adds some context and interesting  
> remarks.

Still, Lischke has a point in that there doesn't really seem to be much 
life, especially new, in the TM community. Other communities also have 
bloggers and mailing lists -- where activity is far greater than what's 
being seen here (me not being a frequent poster - hardly poster at all, 
I'm afraid).

The ones that have responded so far are all people who have been working 
with Topic Maps for years.

I also understand how one might get the impression that the number of 
companies benefiting from Topic Maps is limited.
Speaking as someone who is working for one of the companies that do 
benefit from the technology; in Norway, all of the TM activity is more 
or less concentrated around Oslo. I don't live in Oslo, though, and even 
though I work for Bouvet, it seems pretty dead from my perspective too 
(sometimes I even want to move to Oslo, but then I wake up :D).

While the Semantic Web people host conferences such as the Semantic Days 
[1] in Stavanger, and the local University receives millions of $$ in 
funding and support for SW-based research (national, EU, industry), 
there is not much going on in the world of Topic Maps.

And the fact that there are tons of books dealing with the Semantic Web, 
ontological engineering & RDF/OWL, etc., but no book on Topic Maps (not 
counting the XTM-book or conference proceedings), does make the 
technology, and community, seem pretty dead too.

In other words: I do understand Lischke's argument, but like you, I 
don't agree. I don't believe that Topic Maps is dead ... it's rather the 

Topic Maps has great potential that hopefully will spread outside 
Oslo/Norway (and Germany + one or two projects in other countries), 
sometime soon.

As of today, companies are perhaps not indulging themselves in Topic 
Maps based projects, but I do believe that things are (eventually) going 
to change.

As an example, this year's Expert Center for Information Management 
(ECIM) [2] conference, one of the largest IM/Petroleum conferences in 
the world, features a workshop on Topic Maps. To me, the fact that this 
  workshop is a result of the industry itself searching for better ways 
to organize information, is an indication of how the enterprise is 
starting to pick up on the technology.

Also, as Durusau commented, people are starting to see - and experience 
- the limits of search, and programmers, information architects, as well 
as -designers are starting to look for ways to enable faceted search and 
navigation (see e.g. [3]). Obviously, Topic Maps has great potential here.

As for information or "knowledge" sharing, I belong to the pessimistic 
camp. For now, I think the largest potential is in enriching the user 
experience as well as "closed-world" information integration / 
management (company A is simply too afraid to share information with 
company B). I don't think Topic Maps is inferior to the Semantic Web in 
this regard, though.


[1] http://www.posccaesar.org/en-GB/PortalObject/2803/POSCCaesar.aspx
[2] http://www.ecim.no/

Trond K. Pettersen | Konsulent
Bouvet ASA, Fabrikkveien 10, 4033 Stavanger
Tlf: 51 95 04 50 | Mob: +47 902 52 029
http://www.bouvet.no/ | trond.pettersen at bouvet.no

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