Affiliated Organization

University of Amsterdam, Netherlands


Topic Maps is an International Standard, aiming at a “notation for interchangeably representing information about the structure of information resources.”[4] An informal introduction by S. Pepper goes beyond an orientation at resources, traditionally called documentation. He presents Topic Maps as a “standard for describing knowledge structures and associating them with information resources.” He holds it up as “the Global Positioning System of the information universe,” as Topic Maps permits “to encode arbitrarily complex knowledge structures.”[9] Topic Maps, is it really the silver bullet for the information society? This paper conducts a critical appraisal. My review is not comprehensive, though. I’ve especially attempted a thorough analysis of conceptual foundations, with a special concern for standardized rules and recommendations for map construction. As theory, or metamodel, in the final section Topic Maps is also briefly compared to Metapattern which is the author’s design for controlling requisite variety in information modeling. Some references on both Topic Maps and Metapattern are included at the end of this paper.