Mulberry Technologies
Balisage: The Markup Conference 2009
International Workshop on Markup of Overlapping Structures

International Workshop on Markup of Overlapping Structures

Monday 6 August, 2007

Hotel Europa, Montréal, Canada

XML and SGML have revolutionized the representation of structured information, but not all information structures map easily into systems of hierarchically nested elements. Markup of overlapping structures is a perennially hot topic, reinvented and reimagined as often as it is solved.

This full-day workshop brought together the proponents of some of the major proposals for markup, representation, extraction, display, and validation of semantic overlap to summarize the systems they are developing and discuss topics of common interest.

Overlapping structures are ubiquitous, appearing in applications of textual markup as varied as aircraft maintenance manuals and ancient scriptural and liturgical works. The “overlap issue“ raises its ugly head whenever text encoding looks beyond the snapshot view of a particular hierarchy to represent and process multiple concurrent aspects of a text, including features that reflect the text’s evolution across multiple versions and variants whether typographic or presentational, structural, annotational or referential, taxonomic or topical. Overlap is a problem in texts as diverse as technical documents and product manuals (versioning), legal codes (effectivity), literary works (prosadic versus dramatic stucture, rhetorical structures, annotation), sacred texts (chapter plus verse reference versus sentence structure and commentary), and language corpora (multiple layers of linguistic annotation).

While many approaches to the representation and processing of overlap and multiple concurrent hierarchies in digitally encoded text have been proposed, to date no single effort has demonstrated a general and widely replicable solution. This is a hard problem. Is a single solution possible? Is one necessary?

Formal presentations at the Workshop (with links to speaker bios and presentation materials, as available):

There is nothing so practical as a good theory