Fake real-time blog from SC34 meeting: including audio of proposed Schematron revision

By Rick Jelliffe
September 30, 2008

SC34, the committee on Document Processing and Description Languages at ISO/IEC JTC1, had its half-yearly meeting in Juju Island in Korea. They are trying to alternate between East and West to not penalize participants: SC34 has a particularly strong participation from East Asia. I was not able to attend, at the end, but here are some pointers to the online material about it.

The UK's Alex Brown has some blogs about Day 0, Day 1 and Day 2.

As I (Rick) could not attend in person, I presented by podcast to WG1, which is the working group on schema languages, on my suggested update to ISO Schematron. (The offer to participate by Skype or similar was also made by the SC34 Secretariat, but the voice recording plus email was adequate at that stage.) The paper presentation is available from the official SC34 document registry N1064rev (PDF) It is in the form of an Editor's Defect Report and suggested Defect Resolutions, and is quite specific.

Here are streaming audios (MP3 sorry) of my comments to WG1 that give some of the background and rationale for the proposed parts. You can listen to it in conjunction with the text. (I am not sure that this briefing is grippingly dramatic: I try to speak paced in intro material to make it easier for non-native speakers. But it might be interesting for people to hear some committee presentation.)

Anyone interested in the Schematron revision is very welcome to make comments on this, either on the Schematron love-in mail-list, or the dsdl-comment mail-list. It seems that WG1 is happy to proceed and so the next step is to prepare a new draft of the ISO Schematron with all the changes: that then gets slapped around and voted on an changed according to National Body votes.

The DSDL.org website has been updated to include more recent versions of the various standards. The SC34 DSDL standards are all available free from ISO and are all royalty free. There are (I believe) no closed-source implementations of any of them, and we have been looking at some exciting options recently for integrating the major open source implementations as part of a larger project. More on that in a few weeks...

I am looking forward to seeing the new draft of ISO DSDL part 5 Data Type Library Language which does datatypes right (from my point of view.) In particular, it is designed to allow arbitrary formats to be treated as datatypes: for example, dates in dd-mm-yyyy or mm/dd/yyyy formats. XSD's approach fundamentally anti-markup: the idea that some application will translate your data into some standard formats and then format it out at the other end. Part 5's approach is that the user can decide what notation they way, and because they relate it to some standard format, applications can still understand the data.

Other interesting public documents from the SC34 meeting include:

The final day is Tuesday. The next SC34 meeting is scheduled for Prague in March, piggybacking on the XML Prague conference.

—☼♀☼—

Cheju (or Jeju) Island seems very nice from the pictures. I briefly dated someone from there, so it intrigues me. Some material on the web suggests that it used to be a kind of matriarchy, where once men came of age they were likely to be banished to other islands, only returning on invitation from the women.

Someone recently grumbled that the ISO meetings were junkets to far-off resorts. An off- season hotel midway between China, Korea, Japan and Taiwan in taiphoon season may seem like a junket to, say, an American, but it seems very practical to me as a resident of the Eastern hemisphere. Same time zone as Australia: excellent! The fact is that it is almost impossible for CJK domain experts to participate as equal participants with Westerners by teleconferencing: the days when technical expertise automatically means education in a Western university and consequent fluency are long-gone.

This is something that I have explored multiple times in this blog: not only do you have the fluency problem, but you also have to cope with respect- and shame-based cultures, and with different national decision-making processes. To think that a Western-style adversarial debating/advocacy approach will just work is fatuous. Of course, there are also rival cultural expectations from other participants too: I think Australians often want to cut through red tape and see forward motion fast, for example. And I think there are other countries who regard grandstanding and stalling tactics as legitimate, whereas others regard that as bad faith participation. Man is a social animal, and socializing is almost the only way of bridging many of these gaps.


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