Some thoughts on issues in working memo#1

Wed May 3 12:49:18 2000

A comment by William Cannon about

Some generic issues to consider

by Jonathan C. Matti

Here's some thoughts on some of the questions posed in Johnathon's memo #1.

Can we really develop common science language standards on a continent-wide

There is no technical reason why we cannot.  It is just a question of our
will and willingness to compromise for the benefit of sharing a common
language.  I would imagine that most of us have been involved in making
something like statewide or regionwide compilations.  To do so requires the
standardization of a myriad of terminology from many diverse scales and
levels of detail, from many authors and organizations and across several
generations of geologic thought. Making such a compilation from local to
regional scale probably covers 75% of the spectrum of standardization needed
to achieve nation-wide or continent-wide standardization, so a big part of
the job has been done many times over, more or less successfully.  We
apparently are not concerned about standardized stratigraphic terminology,
mostly because some wise people a long time ago decided that stratigrphic
terminology would be standardized and that decision has been enforced ever
since.  Standardized stratigraphic terminology has simpy become a ppart of
our culture and we accept it even though it at times requires us to make
some compromises in out preferred usage.  Standardization of other
terminolgy could follow the same course if done well at the outset and
consistently applied.

Can we do this at a level deeper than "granite vs. basalt"...?

We undoubtedly can, but we need to make judgements every step of the way of
the benefits of standardization vs. the detriment of loss of information
important at local or regional scales.  Most terminology we will consider
will be in some sort of hierarchical arrangement and standardization will
become both more difficult and less desirable as we proceed to lower levels
in the hierarchy. I personally think we should push the limits as far down
in the hierarchy as we can without violent disagreement among the committee
members and users. I don't think there is any harm in having at least
suggested standard terminolgy in detail.  One of the beauties of digital
maps is that additional attributes can be added at essentially no cost and
little additional effort.  So individual mappers should always have the
ability to include non-standard terminology that is useful for specific
audiences or regions in addition to standard terminology. 

Should there be one single terminology standard or multiple standards linked
by translators and equivalency tables.

I strongly prefer a single standard.  I think users of geolgoic maps have the
right to expect one relative standard terminolgy rather than multiple sets
of terms for the same thing.  Translators might work but would be an
admission of defeat by the committee.

To what audiences will the data model speak?

The data model needs to be technical. I think anyting intended for
non-technical audiences should be viewed as a derivative product that can be
customized for specific needs.

Questions of feature-level accuracy, confidence, origination.

This is a very tough issue but I think it is more an issue of a data model
rather then technical language. It seems to me that developing terminology
would be relatively straight forward once decisions were made as to what
type of information will be required in the data model.

Context of this discussion

This page is part of a discussion of Some generic issues to consider:

Further discussion of Some thoughts on issues in working memo#1 (this page):

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