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Subject: Re: Tokyo document for review

James Whittle asked that comments on the Core Component documents be
received no later than Monday 27th November.  See especially the ebXML
Definition of Core Component Context Categorizations, Classifications,
and Values (1_CONTEXTDEF_ebxml_2000-11-10v3.doc).

Thanks to the Core Components Working Group for sharing the papers.  I
think I vaguely understand how contexts are used to modify core
component behavior, and have skimmed over the parts describing how rules
based on these contexts would be activated.  Though hard pressed to
imagine how all this would be done with schemas, repositories and rule
engines, I'll assume that you all are well on your way to solving these

But I have to ask: wherever are you going with 7.3 Regional Context? By
the appearance of the asterisk, it seems to be a preferred context
category recommended by the ebXML ccWG. There are any number of uses for
the ISO 3166 country code, but trying to anticipate how an application
(or pair of trading partners) intend to use it may be a futile

Looking at the appendix in 8.1 Regional Classifications, I appreciate
the yeoman effort that went into geographically classifying every
political unit, especially since, like the typical American
high-schooler or President-presumptive George W. Bush, I wouldn't be
able to place any more than 10% of the countries on a globe.  But I
can't see any relevance to e-business by this rather arbitrary
classification - and if it's of no use in business, why would we bother
to carry this information around in a repository or use it to drive

And now you have me started: why the mixture of organizational
classifications with geographical? "North America Free Trade
Association" seems out of place in this scheme which is describing the
objects by physical location. Classification as a NAFTA country might
certainly be of value in e-business application, but it certainly is not
a geographical category.

And I don't even know where the US MINOR OUTLYING ISLANDS? are (and
apparently, neither does the author given the big question mark), but I
would lay odds that these islands are war-booty somewhere in the
Pacific, and probably have no manufacturing base that makes NAFTA
classification relevant.  And why would PR - PUERTO RICO, a wholly
owned subsidiary of the U.S., be classified in the Caribbean, then, when
for all commerce purposes (customs, taxes, postage, currency, banking),
it is practically the same as doing business domestically within the
United States? And is TR - TURKEY really Middle Eastern?  - A difficult
judgment call since it straddles Europe and Asia.  Why should Europe and
Asia *even* be classified as separate continents?  Unless you were
trying to forcibly lump together a bunch of Muslim countries with Israel
just to cause trouble, and though that may or may not be of any
relevance to commerce, why is there a "Middle East" category at all?

And what's with the "Eastern Europe" ghetto?  That's not a geographical
location - it's an occupied nation mindset, where Poland, Latvia,
Estonia, Lithuania, Croatia, Slovenia, Hungary, the Czech Republic and
Slovakia certainly don't belong - they're overwhelmingly Roman Catholic
culturally if not in fact (with a smattering of misc. Protestants), and
use the Latin alphabet - as sure a definition of "Western" as there's
ever been.  Further, it's interesting to note that all countries
physically on the continent of Africa have been  categorized as one
undifferentiated mass, perpetuating the stereotype of the "Dark"
continent, as if we can't be bothered to tell any of those people apart.

It's a miracle that the ISO has even managed to name and code these
entities.   Trying to further classify "countries" like this is a
Herculean effort, sure to result in inaccuracy and insult.  So why even
bother? I'm not even talking political correctness here: it's of no
value in e-commerce.  It's a waste of time.  And it doesn't even serve
as a useful pedagogical example.

The core ISO 3166 list, without classification, should be suitable for
context setting;  additional lists could be made from subsets of ISO
3166 which identify useful agglomerations such as lists of NAFTA
countries, EU countries, or NATO countries, etc. etc.

William J. Kammerer
4950 Blazer Memorial Pkwy.
Dublin, OH USA 43017-3305
+1 614 791-1600

Visit FORESIGHT Corp. at http://www.foresightcorp.com/
"Commerce for a New World"

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