"What namespace does the name "Lake Geneva" exist in? Who owns that namespace? If, for Joe Author, Lake Geneva (the lake itself, not just its name) is a topic, how should Joe Author refer to it? (In fact, the Lake Geneva example points up another interesting aspect of the problem. In France, the very same lake is called "Lac Leman". Two names, one lake.) Joe Author needs to point at the Lake itself as a topic, and he needs to do it in a way that will be maximally useful to unknown others for figuring out what it is that he's regarding as this topic. Nobody is ever going to "resolve" this pointer; if somehow they did resolve the pointer, a flood of living water would come pouring out of the CRT, or the user would be teleported into the lake and be drowned. That's not what we're trying to accomplish here." The thread is from 1998 and I haven't had a chance to see what actually made it in to the Topic Maps spec. Interesting discussion, all the same.