Summary of the Third Organizational Meeting of TopicMaps.Org
and the First Meeting of the TopicMaps.Org Authoring Group

June 8-9, 2000
Salon Panoramique
Concorde La Fayette Hotel
Paris, France


Kal Ahmed Chrystal Software
Murray Altheim  Sun Microsystems
Michel Biezunski Infoloom, Inc
Martin Bryan *** Diffuse Project
Paul Conn GCA
Jean Delahousse Mondeca
David Duncan ADIS International
Eric Freese Isogen
G. Ken Holman  Crane Softwright Ltd
Sam Hunting  Calian
Peter Jones  Wrox Press
W. Eliot Kimber ** Isogen International
Patrick King  GCA
Benedicte LeGrand Laboratoire d'Informatique de Paris 6
Graham Moore  Step UK
Steve Newcomb * TechnoTeacher
Nikita Ogievetsky  Cogitech, Inc
Jack Park Vertical Net
Steve Pepper  Ontopia
Daniel Rivers-Moore RivCom
Bryan Thompson  Cognitive Technologies & Global Wisdom
Jenny Watson Wrox Press
* absent from day 2 morning session
** absent from day 1 session
*** arrived after opening gavel on day 1

The meeting was called to order at approximately 9:15 AM local time.

Paul Conn, Vice President, E-Business Initiatives, GCA/IDEAlliance (the Host Organization) gave an introduction noting that the goal of this meeting is to finalize the organizational structure so that the group's work can begin. He stated that Steve Newcomb and Michel Biezunski would act as co-chairs for this meeting, and that Patrick King, Manager, E-Business Standards Development was present and that Pat would take notes. He turned the meeting over to the acting Chairpersons.

This is the last organizational meeting.

IDEAlliance is holding a public meeting on Wednesday, June 14 to discuss sponsorship and marketing issues.

The possiblity of liaisons with other organizations, including the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), OASIS and IETF were discussed. The ISO committee TC46 is responsible for the the library related standard and the International Federation of Library Association (IFLA) and the EFILA are implementers in Europe. Murray Altheim noted that we need to take into account the needs of the library community. He suggested that the group consider the library management requirements of some of the large publishing firms.

Topic Map Templates were briefly discussed, but then all technical discussion was tabled in favor of the more urgent work of finishing and adopting a Charter under which technical work could proceed directly toward a representatively designed, authorizable, and widely adoptable conclusion.

During the previous two organizational meetings, a draft Charter has been developed. It can be found at web site, at xtm-wg. It was decided that this meeting's work on the Charter would proceed on the assumption that some subsequent version of the draft would ultimately be ratified.

It was decided that the name of the activity and the group shall be TopicMaps.Org, while the specification that will be provided to make topic maps interoperable for web applications shall be XTM (standing for "XML Topic Maps").

It was decided by acclamation that Robert's Rules of Order shall govern the procedures at TopicMaps.Org Authoring Group (AG) meetings.

Regarding voting, it was decided that:

Votes can be changed up until the deadline for voting.  Votes, and  changes to votes received after the deadline, are without effect.  Any Participating Member can call for a vote but that person must record and report the votes and each voter's reasons, if any are given.  Call-in votes are acceptable, but the preferred method of voting is via email.
It is always acceptable to abstain.  Abstentions must be registered as votes, because they contribute to the quorum count, but they are not considered in the determination of majority.  In other words, a motion that requires a two-thirds majority in order to take effect will take effect if and only if a quorum of the Participating  Members voted before the deadline, and two thirds of those who did not abstain cast their votes in favor of the motion.  Similarly, a motion that requires a simple majority in order to take effect will take effect if and only if a quorum of the Participating Members voted before the deadline, and a simple majority of those who did not abstain cast their votes in favor of the motion.

The rules regarding Participating (i.e., voting) Membership were discussed.  The consensus was consistent with that of the previous two organizational meetings: that the group's immediate reason for existence is to produce an easily assumable specification that will facilitate worldwide knowledge interchange viaTopic Maps, and to produce it quickly.  Therefore, voting access should be restricted to people who contribute directly to the technical work and/or who provide user requirements which need to be considered during the technical development.  Only those who demonstrate their commitment to active, productive, and success-oriented participation should be allowed to become Participating Members.  However, and as was repeatedly observed in several discussions, the activities of TopicMaps.Org should be visible to all interested parties.

It was decided that the membership balancing constraint imposed by the previous two organizational meetings should be relaxed completely. That constraint was that system vendors, on the one hand, and representatives of information owners and users, on the other hand, should be equally representated among the Participating Members. The main reason for relaxing this constraint is that it is impractical to establish and maintain such a balance, at least in any meaningful way, especially in view of the fact that many of the most significant players are at the same time channel owners, content owners, content management/access software vendors, and content users.

However, it remained the consensus of the group that the XTM Specification must be reasonably responsive to all of the reasonable requirements of all classes of potential XTM Specification adopters. When a standard is widely adopted, it has many effects on commerce. The XTM Specification should balance those effects in such a way that all those who play roles in knowledge commerce gain clear benefits, and in such a way that no class of potential adopters gains significant benefit at the expense of any other class of potential adopters. If any class of adopters is significantly disadvantaged by the XTM Specification, the XTM Specification is unlikely to succeed in the marketplace.

Paul Conn stated that GCA/IDEAlliance works with other organizations that have developed or are currently developing standards for Electronic Commerce, including business to business (B2B) and business to consumer (B2C) standards. He urged that an organizational structure broadly similar to the organizational structure of some other groups be considered for adoption by TopicMaps.Org. An organization operating according to this model would consist of three main parts, outlined here with some possible subgroups:

  1. Technical Committee
  2. Communications Committee
  3. Strategic Planning Committee
The three above groups would report to the Authoring Group as a whole, which would retain final authority on all policy questions.

Considerable discussion on the question of how the TopicMaps.Org should be organized ensued. If the Authoring Group is doing the technical work, and, at the same time, the AG has all policy authority, what would be the purpose of having a separate technical subgroup? There were questions about the marketing of XTM, and about the ad hoc role of the existing marketing group and host organization, IDEAlliance. It was again noted that a marketing meeting had been called by IDEAlliance as part of XML Europe (next week in the adjacent building, here in Paris, on Wednesday evening, June 14, 2000), and that this meeting was taking place without the authorization of the Authoring Group. Steve Newcomb observed that until the Authoring Group ratified a charter, the subject of what could and could not be done in the name of the Authoring Group was a non-issue.

Paul Conn explained that the Marketing Committee is responsible for not just marketing a finished product, but also for involving new people and organizations in the development process. He stated that the technology is available and the only thing holding the development back is the fact that people are not aware of the potential of this technology. He noted that Marketing is the force that gets more good people involved in development efforts and that leads to a successful end product.

Steve Pepper moved, and Murrary Altheim seconded, that the draft Charter be redrafted along the lines of Paul's suggested outline. It was noted that there is a need for an executive level in TopicMaps.Org. Paul Conn stated that the draft Charter can be modified to accomplish the executive level, the technical level and the marketing level functions.

Steve Newcomb observed that, according to the draft Charter, the Authoring Group can do anything it wants to do, including modify the Charter itself. He urged the group not to delay ratification of the Charter, thus delaying the technical work of developing the XTM Specification, merely in order to deal with administrative changes the need for which hasn't yet been demonstrated, and which in any case can be dealt with later, as they come up.

Sam Hunting suggested drafting a new clause for the Charter on how to create and destroy subcommittees or subgroups. After some discussion, this suggestion became a motion that the group add to the Charter a provision that the Authoring Group may create subgroups that will be governed by the selfsame Charter, recursively, except for such explicitly-stated procedural exceptions as the Authoring Group may authorize from time to time. This motion passed unanimously, and the new language for the Charter reads:

Working Groups
The TopicMaps.Org AG may at any time establish or disband working groups or committees that will be governed by this Charter or a variant of it as determined by the TopicMaps.Org AG.

The roles, responsibilities, and procedure for selecting the Co-chairs/Editors were discussed. As a result, the following statement was added to the draft charter by unanimous decision:

The TopicMaps.Org chair(s) will be elected by an absolute majority of participating members.

The question of removal of a chairperson was discussed. This discussion was tabled until the next day's meeting.

The meeting adjourned at 7:23 PM to June 9, 2000 at 9:00 AM local time.

The meeting was called to order by Acting Chair Michel Biezunski at approximately 9:25 AM local time.

Regarding the classes of participants, Steve Pepper proposed a matrix for the group to consider:

Three Classes of Actors

Two Classes of Deliberations

A lengthy and intense debate produced two options for consideration

* Advisory Members advise by posting to (M2), not (M1).
* The Co-chairs monitor (M2) to ensure that advice reaches the Authoring Group.
* Advisory members can lose their advisory status.
* RO access means access to mail list archives, not email subscription.
** Voting summaries provide to M2 at regular intervals.

It was noted that if "The World" Class wanted to communicate with the Authoring Group they could petition the group to join as a member.

Steve Newcomb spoke in opposition to the idea of different mailing lists for different levels of participation, saying that a successful result to the XTM Specification effort would require that the Participating Members fully intend to create jointly some valuable intellectual property (the XTM Specification), to design it for the purpose of serving the best interests of industry and humanity, and then to give that intellectual property to the world. Steve said, "What we do here cannot be, nor can it be perceived to be, more beneficial to us than it is to the rest of the world."

Paul Conn reiterated that this is the last "organizational" meeting, and its goal is to draft and ratify a Charter so that the real work can begin. He stated that an additional list server is just a productivity issue. It helps the group communicate with each other on issues pertinent to the current subject without being blasted with non-essential flack. He noted that it has nothing to do with privacy or public domain. He added that all Meeting Summaries, Draft Specifications and other pertinent information will be available for public review and comment as directed by the Authoring Group. More discussion ensued. Arguments for and against two mailing lists were stated.

Ultimately, Option 1, the "Open Proposal", was adopted unanimously, and the draft charter was reworded to comply with the vote.

It was decided that IDEAlliance shall post the Meeting Summaries, Requirements List, Use cases, Working Drafts, etc. as directed by the Authoring Group.

The discussion moved to licensing of the intellectual property represented by the XTM Specification. The consensus was that anything that the group produces should be copyrighted in the name of the group. Paul Conn agreed and he noted that the work that this group produces should be provided to the world under a license that is consistent with open, free utilization of the intellectual property by everyone in the world, and at the same time is consistent with legally prohibiting or otherwise limiting the ability of non-conforming implementations and nonconforming commercially-distributed topic maps to inaccurately claim conformance to the XTM Specification. He suggested that even if it is a free specification, there should be a license statement, so that if the XTM Specification is used in a way that is inconsistent with the goals of TopicMaps.Org, there is some recourse at law.

As a result of the foregoing discussion, Section 2.3 was rewritten to conform to the Group's unanimous decision that, upon ratification of the Charter, the Host Organization (IDEAlliance) would be expected to provide legal counsel regarding the protection of the intellectual property produced under the auspices of TopicMaps.Org.

The following changes were made to the draft Charter. (N.B. the section numbers in this Meeting Summary may not match the numbers in the Charter as ratified.)

Paul Conn described the notion of sponsorships and the cost of the meetings. All costs of meetings and all other direct costs attributable to the development of the XTM Specification will be borne by the Participating Members, and IDEAlliance will collect the money from the Participants. All other costs, including the cost of marketing, legal counsel, etc. will be funded by sponsorships collected by IDEAlliance. IDEAlliance will calculate a budget for these costs.

A vote for ratification of the draft Charter, as edited by the meeting, was called for. The Charter was unanimously ratified. TopicMaps.Org now exists. All those who attended either of the other two organizational meetings will be given an opportunity to add their names to the list of charter members (to have their names listed at the top of the charter as Founders), and to declare their intention, if any, to serve as Participating Members in accordance with the provisions of the Charter.

It was decided that a document detailing the requirements for the XTM Specification will be produced. Although no decisions were made regarding the content of that document, the following characteristics were desired by various Participating Members:

It was decided that, as the first step in the XTM Specification process, a Modeling Group will be created (as a subgroup per the charter) for the purpose of creating and proposing a formal expression of the underlying data model implicit in the ISO specification. The model should be proposed to the Authoring Group by mid-July 2000. Steve Newcomb urged that the Modeling Group have as few members as possible, consistent with a technically strong and quick product.

The Modeling Group volunteers are Graham Moore, Murray Altheim, Steve Newcomb, Eliot Kimber, Daniel Rivers-More, and Sam Hunting. Steve Pepper was named Chair of the Modeling Group.

It was unanimously decided to elect Michel Biezunski and Steve Newcomb as the first co-chairs of the TopicMaps.Org Authoring Group. (They ran unopposed.)

It was decided by acclamation that all Founders be regarded as Invited Guests if they choose not to become Participating Members.

It was decided that meeting summaries should be made public after those present at the meeting have had an opportunity to review them.

It was decided that, in the interests of efficiency in exchanging ideas and views, no recording devices will be allowed in face-to-face meetings. No conference calls will be accepted during face-to-face meetings.

IDEAlliance was named the official Host Organization, and all marketing responsibilities for the XTM Specification were delegated to it. IDEAlliance was fully authorized to create a Marketing Committee, to determine its membership and operating rules, and to take all necessary executive actions with respect to marketing the XTM Specification, subject to its commitment to maintain open lines of communication with the Authoring Group for reporting, advice, and consent, and subject the Charter's provision that the Host Organization serves in the capacity of Host Organization at the pleasure of the Authoring Group.

The group formally expressed its gratitude for the efforts of Paul Conn and Pat King, and for the support of IDEAlliance for organizing and financing the organizational meetings, including this third and final one.

The group also thanked Mondeca (represented by Jean Delahousse) for contributing financing that significantly reduced the cost to the Participating Members of the participating in this third organizational meeting.

The meeting adjourned at 6:20 PM local time without agreeing on the time or place for the next meeting.