I have always liked the idea of medieval mapmakers using the phrase "Here Be Dragons" to denote unexplored or dangerous territories. Sticking a fire-breathing reptile in documentation when you run out of facts? That’s panache. These days, people aren’t so stylish. When an information architect (or user experience designer) doesn’t have the time (or the talent) to document content requirements, they stick a "page stack" on their site map.
Sitemaps are common deliverables, desired by clients who want a visual representation of a site. Since they are rarely used to make decisions, information architects may not consider them the valuable tools they are. The effort required to make and maintain them requires time that might be better used elsewhere. In fact, I would suggest that making sure the little boxes line up is a waste of an IA's mental abilities.
This paper is about the relationship between the topic map and RDF standards families. It compares the two technologies and looks at ways to make it easier for users to live in a world where both technologies are used. This is done by looking at how to convert information back and forth between the two technologies, how to convert schema information, and how to do queries across both information representations. Ways to achieve all of these goals are presented.
Information architects have so far applied known and well-tried tools from library science to solve this problem, and now topic maps are sailing up as another potential tool for information architects. This raises the question of how topic maps compare with the traditional solutions, and that is the question this paper attempts to address.
Topic maps are a new ISO standard for describing knowledge structures and associating them with information resources. As such they constitute an enabling technology for knowledge management. Dubbed “the GPS of the information universe”, topic maps are also destined to provide powerful new ways of navigating large and interconnected corpora. While it is possible to represent immensely complex structures using topic maps, the basic concepts of the model — Topics, Associations, and Occurrences (TAO) — are easily grasped. This paper provides a non-technical introduction to these and other concepts (the IFS and BUTS of topic maps), relating them to things that are familiar to all of us from the realms of publishing and information management, and attempting to convey some idea of the uses to which topic maps will be put in the future.
Topic Maps have figured very prominently at all recent IDEAlliance conferences, with a large number of interesting presentations on various aspects of the Topic Maps paradigm. However, at every conference there are always many people who are encountering Topic Maps for the first time. For those people, experiencing that something they have never heard of before - or don't quite get - is the "buzz of the conference" can be very frustrating. This presentation is designed to cater to the needs of such people by providing an introduction to the basic concepts of topic maps in a lively and informal manner.
This paper shows how topic maps can address the limitations of traditional content management systems while building on their strengths. The term ITMS (Integrated Topic Management System) is coined for a content management system based on topic maps, and the paper shows what is necessary to build such systems, as well as what benefits they bring. The use of the WebDAV protocol to layer topic maps over content stores is also considered, and an abstract topic map-to-content store protocol is sketched, which corresponds very closely to WebDAV.