First summarizing the alternatives:
ad 1. - EU project(s) - At the RDF Dictionary meeting in Barcelona on wednesday night, several people suggested to submit the EU proposal again. If anyone wants to take an initiative in this direction, from my point of view he or she is free to do so. I dare not venture into this again, at least not as a main contractor. From university side there is a keen interest to take part in such a project: Bristol, Amsterdam, Brussels, Stockholm. So a research project is feasible.
ad 2. - prototype RDF Dictionary by private company - although I was prepared in Barcelona to question the RDF Dictionary as a means to map structures, hardly anybody seemed to be interested to challenge it. On the contrary. The fact that a proposal was submitted to the EU and rated well, seemed to convince most people to the extent even, that developing a prototype seems to have become superfluous as an intermediate step to full acceptance. As a result, I have not further dug in to this alternative. The argument "why not topic maps" pops up every now and again. After yet further discussions on this, I have come to the conclusion, that topic maps may be good for top down approaches.; RDF, however, is the better choice for the bottom up approach of the RDF Dictionary.
ad 3. - commercial assignments - this will happen at some point of time. If and when it happens I will ensure, that the result can be shown in public (as a kind of prototype after all).
ad 4. - standardisation - this was the buzz word of Barcelona. Everything had to be a standard, was going to be a standard, was a standard, going to be a competing standard and what have you. Although standardisation of the RDF Dictionary method was suggested to me several times, it took me some time to realise that this is indeed he way to go. Standards seem to be important to many people and organisations and, most importantly for me now, they are willing to pay for it.
My plan is to create a legal entity (code name legaldata.org) owned by 10 to 15 main funding parties, with the largest possible spread of interests. That is the first layer. The discussion on the standard takes place on a second layer, in which the parties of the first layer are represented (with enhanced voting rights), plus other parties with particular capabilities, like Universities, paying a smaller fee (perhaps a patronage program, a main funder paying for a university research team). The third layer is parties who submit (against a fee) a schema to the schema repository, whereby each schema is to be mapped (at own costs) to the RDF Dictionary.
The idea is that besides the standardisation efforts, the RDF Dictionary is also immediately applied: the application reinforcing the standard, and the standard efforts reinforcing the willingness to embed a schema in the network of schemas created by the RDF Dictionary. Legaldata.org being the owner of the Schema repository (and its network of structures), the main funding parties become co-owner of this repository. Although Legaldata.org will not be geared at making profit, such a repository of course does represent some value. More importantly, by asking a fee for accepting and keeping schemas in the repository, Legaldata.org will be financially self supporting after some time.
After the standard has been agreed, it is to be taken to established standard organisations like OASIS/Cen/Cenelec/ISO.
My self-imposed time schedule is to make a plan on paper this summer. In the autumn I wish to find the 10-15 main funding parties, create the legal entity, put up a basic website and start work as soon as the funds are there.
mm Juni 2002