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Topic Map Presentations in Granada

Date:     Thu, 28 Jan 1999 08:56:25 +0100
From:     Steve Pepper <>
Subject:  Topic map presentations in Granada

I'm interested to know who else (if anyone) is presenting a paper on topic maps at XML '99 in Granada. So far I know about Michel's (an introduction to topic maps) and my own. In addition, Michel and Steve N will be doing a workshop. Any others?

My submission is appended, in case anyone is interested.


Presentation title: "Euler, Topic Maps, and Revolution"

Author Name: Steve Pepper Author Job Title: Senior Information Architect Author Affiliation: STEP Infotek A/S Author Address: Gjerdrums vei 12, N-0486 Oslo, Norway Author Phone: +47 22 02 16 87 Author Fax: +47 22 02 16 81 Author Email Address: Author Web:

Author's Biography:

Steve Pepper is the Senior Information Architect with STEP Infotek, a company within the STEP group (based in Norway, Germany and Hungary) that specialises in information reengineering.

Originally trained as a typographer, Steve has worked with structured information since 1988 and participated in a wide range of SGML-related projects in both the public and private sectors in Norway and abroad. He is currently heavily involved in the implementation of document management solutions for leading European reference works publishers and is a principal architect of the Reference Work Module functionality of STEP's flagship product, SigmaLink.

Steve represents Norway on JTC 1/SC 34, the ISO committee responsible for the development of SGML and related standards, where he has played an active role in the development of the new Topic Navigation Map standard (ISO/IEC 13250).

A frequent speaker at SGML events around the world, he is the author and maintainer of the popular "Whirlwind Guide to SGML and XML tools", which is freely available on the internet at, and co-author (with Charles Goldfarb and Chet Ensign) of the "SGML Buyer's Guide", a comprehensive guide to choosing SGML and XML products and services.


Last year at this conference, Rafal Ksiezyk of Polish Scientific Publishers (PWN) presented a paper entitled "Plato, SGML, and Revolution". The central concept espoused in this paper is that of a "Mother Encyclopedia" (ME), that stores reference data for all current and future publications. The ME is seen as a way in which reference works publishers can organise their information assets more effectively in order to maximise reuse and minimise redundancy.

This new paper takes its lead from Rafal and develops the ideas further, exploring how a _topic map_-based paradigm can be used to achieve these same ends and at the same time provide much more powerful navigational tools for both editorial staff and end users.

The presentation opens with a brief recapitulation of the problems and challenges facing reference works publishers in the Age of Infoglut (in which most retailable information is available for free somewhere ... if only it can be found ... and relied on), and a short description of the concept of the Mother Encyclopedia.

It then provides a brief overview of the Topic Map standard, introducing the basic concepts of topics, occurrences, occurrence roles, topic types, associations, association types, scopes, facets and facet types. (In the presentation, this section can be tailored to fit in with other presentations at the conference. Ideally, there should be a separate introduction to topic maps preceding this presentation.)

The bulk of the paper is concerned with creating a synthesis of the two models. The basic topic/occurrence paradigm is shown to be ideal as a fundamental principle for organising and maintaining reference information in the ME. In addition, mechanisms based on SGML architectures are described for utilising the topic paradigm to achieve the integration of re-usable "hard facts" (stored in relational databases) with narrative information marked up in SGML; for providing semantic validation services against controlled vocabularies; etc.

The concepts are illustrated using a simple topic map, and (in the presentation) by an implementation of the architecture-based mechanisms.

The ideas in the presentation are based on in-depth discussions over the course of several years with leading encyclopedia publishers in Denmark, Germany, Norway, Poland and Spain. However, the content is thought to be relevant to many branches of publishing, and indeed information management in general. Although there will be some simple syntax examples, the level of the presentation will be relatively non-technical, and it should not therefore be part of an (otherwise) very technical track.

2-Sentence description for Brochure: How the new Topic Map standard (ISO/IEC 13250) can provide the underpinnings of a more effective way of organising and managing information as well as navigating it. Described within the context of reference works publishing, but with general applicability.

[Target audience: User (?)]

Steve Pepper, Senior Information Architect <>
STEP Infotek AS, Gjerdrums vei 12, N-0486 Oslo, Norway  phone://+47 22021680/  fax://+47 22021681/
direct://+47 22021687/  GSM/cellular://+47 90827246/
Whirlwind Guide to SGML/XML Tools:

Prepared by Robin Cover for the The SGML/XML Web Page archive. For other information on Topic Navigation Maps, see "Topic Navigation Maps."

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