Tim's Weblog
Tim Strehle’s links and thoughts on Web apps, software development and Digital Asset Management, since 2002.

Michel Biezunski: Topic Maps Now

Despite my claim that Topic Maps (as a standard) are dead, I’m a huge fan and continue to work with Topic Maps (with the goal of building Knowledge Graphs).

That’s why I love Michel Biezunski’s excellent blog post Topic Maps Now. Some quotes:

“In this paper, I will […] advocate that the notions of topic mapping are still useful, even if they need to be adapted to new methods and systems.

[…] I took part in the design of the initial topic maps model, I started the process to transform the conceptual model into an international standard. […] During the last 15 years, I have helped clients create and manage topic map applications, and I am still doing it.

[…] The success [of Topic Maps standards and tools] was somewhat limited, and use of Topic Maps seems to be declining, which seems surprising given the fact that many web sites are organized around topics. Most of these tools are no longer maintained, and the activity in the ISO standard working group has decreased accordingly.

[…] The trend towards smaller content pages, compared to the book, accentuates topic-centric content publishing units. In a way, this is a fulfillment of the Topic Maps promise. […] The openness of Topic Maps enables more flexibility and variations than DITA, but it imposes more modular work upfront with tools that are less focused on the specificities of technical documentation.

[…] “The "Google Knowledge Graph" was added to Google Search after Google acquired a company called Metaweb in 2010. Metaweb developed "Freebase", an "open, shared database of the world knowledge", which was explicitly constructed using the concepts of the Topic Maps standard. Freebase was absorbed a couple of years ago into Wikidata.

[…] The main value of the topic maps paradigm seems therefore not in be the interchangeability of topic maps, but rather in the independence between the sources and the knowledge layer.”

See also Patrick Durusau’s response, If Silo Owners Love Their Children Too.