photo of Steve Newcomb


Coolheads Consulting
382 Walker Drive
Canandaigua, New York 14424 USA
+1 585 483 0762

26 April 2018

Academic Highlights

Music Education and Research. Co-founded the Florida State University Center for Music Research in 1980; served as its Associate Director and held the rank of Associate Professor in the FSU School of Music (now College of Music) until 1994, when I changed my focus to my "e;TechnoTeacher"e; information management consulting and software business. Although I had been trained as a music theorist, I found myself teaching industrial software development courses, at both the undergraduate and graduate levels, to both Music and Computer Science students.

Music Information Interchange. Co-editor of ISO 10743 Draft Standard Music Description Language. The music publishing industry could scarcely have been less interested in this work, and it was never completed. However, it turned out to be seminal for many other things, and it ultimately became the ISO 10744 HyTime Hypermedia Time-based Structuring Language, which substantially influenced what we know today as "e;the Web"e;. (More below.)

Service to the Markup Language Community. Founding co-chair of the annual Balisage: The Markup Conference, and its predecessor conferences, 1994-2015. Balisage remains the premiere thought-leadership conference in the markup language field. I was founding chair of the series begun in 1994 under the name "International HyTime Conference". I changed the name to "Metastructures" in 1998, and, when it was merged with the Graphic Communications Association (GCA) Markup Technologies conference series in 2000, the name was changed to "Extreme Markup Languages". After separating from the GCA, the name became "e;Balisage"e;, and the conference is now chaired by Tommie Usdin of Mulberry Technologies.

Industrial Highlights

Knowledge Integration Management. System designer and maintainer for the production system of IRS Tax Map, the official one-topic-per-webpage master index used internally by the taxpayer-assistance staff of the U.S. Internal Revenue Service, starting in 2000 and continuing to this day. The system depends exclusively on open-source software, including Python (a programming language whose technical documentation includes some of my work) and the Linux operating system.

Information Management Technology. Implemented the Versavant subject addressing engine / topic map application bus, first released May, 2005. Served as founding President/CEO of TechnoTeacher, Inc., which developed the GroveMinder technology, and licensed it to key players in telecommunications, defense, and aerospace. The technology is based on the GROVE paradigm for generalized information addressing, which I co-developed. The GROVE paradigm formed the basis on which the World Wide Web Consortium's Document Object Model (DOM) was developed.

Knowledge Integration Methodology. Originator of the Topic Maps paradigm, which now forms the basis of software products and services emanating from Germany, Poland, the United Kingdom, Norway, and the United States. The US Internal Revenue Service uses the paradigm to prepare master indexes of tax publications. The US Department of Energy uses it to classify documents containing weapons secrets. Several electronic publishers use it to broaden the markets for their knowledge assets. Co-editor of  the ISO 13250 Topic Maps standard. Founded and led TopicMaps.Org in development of the XTM (XML Topic Maps) syntax for Topic Maps. Developed the pioneering "PMTM4" processing model for the XTM syntax, since translated into Japanese and published as a JIS Technical Report.  Developed and drafted the Topic Maps Reference Model, now a part of the ISO 13250 Topic Maps Standard.

Information Management Technology. As a research project, I implemented the Versavant subject addressing engine / topic map application bus, first released May, 2005. I was founding President/CEO of TechnoTeacher, Inc., which developed the SGML Property Set, and licensed it to key players in telecommunications, defense, and aerospace. The technology is based on the GROVE paradigm for generalized information addressing, which I co-developed. The GROVE paradigm formed the basis on which the World Wide Web Consortium's Document Object Model (DOM) was developed.

Theory and Standardization of Information Management Methodology. Co-developer and co-editor of the ISO 10744 Hypermedia/Time-based Structuring Language ("HyTime"), used for complex and demanding information management applications, including military technical manuals, collaborative six-sigma aerospace manufacturing and maintenance systems, etc.

Selected Professional Engagements

Member of Steering Committee, Future of Electronic Publishing towards 2010 [EP 2010], 2002-2003, a study funded by the European Commission.

Senior Information Management Consultant, ISOGEN International Corporation, 1997-2000.

Consulting Architect, XML Mortgage Partners (XML-MP), 1999. The Steering Committee included Chase Home Finance, Countrywide Home Loans, Dynatek, Inc., Fiserv/Unifi,, Ultraprise Corporation, VMP/ELF Mortgage Forms, and Waterfield Mortgage. This project ultimately became the Mortgage Industry Standards Maintenance Organization (MISMO).

Co-editor (with Michel Biezunski, Martin Bryan, and later modules, including the Topic Maps Referenc Model, with Patrick Durusau), ISO/IEC 13250:2000 (etc.), "Topic Maps," 1998-2010. This international standard permits views of knowledge and corporate memory (Topic Maps) to be created and maintained separately and asynchronously, interchanged, and merged automatically or semi-automatically into larger topic maps of arbitrary comprehensiveness. The Topic Maps standard and its underlying notions are being enthusiastically embraced by early adopters in the financial services, legal publishing, and aerospace manufacturing industries, as well as U.S. government agencies.

Founding Co-chairman (with Michel Biezunski), TopicMaps.Org, and Co-editor of the XTM 1.0 Specification, 1999-2001. TopicMaps.Org was the locus of the independent "XTM initiative" to adapt ISO 13250:2000 to W3C XML practices and Recommendations. Publication of the XML Topic Maps (XTM) 1.0 Specification occurred on December 4, 2000. The XTM syntax was incorporated into ISO 13250 in 2001.

Co-editor, ISO/IEC 10744:1997 Hypermedia Time-based Structuring Language ("HyTime"), 1986-present. This 450-page standard covers an enormous amount of territory, providing standardizing answers to many of the hardest problems in information management and information interchange, including independent hyperlinking, universal addressing, inheritable information architectures, application-internal representations of parsed information, the application of lexical constraints, scheduling, activity tracking, storage management, and the interactions among all these requirements and among all the solutions that HyTime provides. The Web world has drawn many concepts and solutions from HyTime, such as the World Wide Web Consortium's XLink, XPath, and DOM (Document Object Model) Recommendations.

Co-editor, ISO/IEC 10743:1996 Standard Music Description Language ("SMDL"), 1986-. This standard provides ways of interchanging musical compositions and ideas far more powerfully and abstractly than any other digital music representation formalism. Because of its high degree of abstraction and generality, all musical traditions and musical notations are served by this standard, with its indefinitely extensible metric, agogic, articulation and pitch modeling capabilities.

Founding Chair, Conventions for the Application of HyTime (CApH) activity of the Graphic Communications Association Research Institute. The purpose of this work was to provide guidance to HyTime-compliant document designers so that they could take maximum advantage of ISO/IEC 10744 in representing a variety of logical constructs, such as indexes, the wishes of information owners regarding licensing arrangements, tabular data, revision tracking, etc. The "Topic Maps" portion of the CApH conventions, which I first codified in 1993, ultimately became the ISO/IEC 13250:2000 Topic Maps standard in 2000.

Member of the Editorial Advisory Board, Markup Languages: Theory and Practice Journal of MIT Press, 1998-2002.

Employment History

Independent consultant, Coolheads Consulting, 2000-present. Consultation on information management/publishing projects for clients in various fields Sole systems maintainer of of the production process of IRS Tax Map, which is one of the ways that the U.S. Internal Revenue Service provides external access to its constantly-changing library of tax publications, forms, FAQs, “tax topics”, and other materials, and internal access to these materials for its seasonal and permanent staffs of "e;telephone assistors"e; for taxpayers.

Founding President, TechnoTeacher Inc., 1984-2000. General supervision of all financial, operational, and technical aspects of TechnoTeacher, Inc.

Under my leadership, TechnoTeacher developed software technologies, collectively known as the GroveMinder(TM) System, on which sophisticated, state-of-the-art electronic information management applications can be built. Licensees of these libraries included Lockheed-Martin, Woodward Aircraft Engine Systems, the U.S. Department of Defense (U.S. Navy and certain portions of the intelligence community), Fujitsu Ltd., Unisys Corp., and the Legislature of the State of Texas.

Founding Associate Director, Center for Music Research (CMR), Florida State University (FSU), Tallahassee, Florida, 1980-1994. The CMR was founded, in part, on my seminal work in music representation for intelligent music tutoring systems. This work ultimately led to ISO/IEC 10743 Standard Music Description Language (SMDL), ISO/IEC 10744 Hypermedia Time-based Structuring Language (HyTime), and ISO/IEC 13250 Topic Maps, all of which I co-edited, and much of the content of which I drafted. As part of its "Integrated Cybernetic Music System" project, which I designed and led, the CMR developed and built prototypes of several music technologies which are now commonplace, including dynamic keyboards (one of which was purchased by Lucasfilm). I also held the rank of Associate Professor at Florida State University from 1984-1994.

Selected Publications

"Multiple Subject Map Patterns for Relationships and TMDM Information Items", Steve Newcomb and Patrick Durusau, presented Extreme Markup Languages 2005, Montréal, August 2005. (backup copy)

"Bottom-up Semantic Integration" (slides), Michel Biezunski and Steve Newcomb, presented at 38th Collaborative Expedition Workshop at the National Science Foundation, February 22, 2005.

"What is a Topic Map Application (TMA)?" (slides), Patrick Durusau and Steve Newcomb, presented as a "Nocturne" at Extreme Markup Languages 2004, Montreal, August 5, 2004.

"Ontological Engineering and the Topic Maps Reference Model" (slides), presented in an Ontolog teleconference on June 10, 2004.

"Smart Content, Opportunity Discovery, Knowledge Trading and Alliance Making" (slides), Steve Newcomb and Brian Blunden, presented at XML Europe 2004, Amsterdam, April 21, 2004. Click here for the paper..

"Topic Maps: The Inventor's Perspective on Subject-based Access" (slides), Michel Biezunski and Steve Newcomb, presented at the Library of Congress, October 15, 2003. The full webcast is available at the Library of Congress website..

A Semantic Integration Methodology” (slides only), presented at Extreme Markup Languages 2003, August 4-8, 2003, Montreal, Quebec, Canada.

"The Economics of the Topic Maps Reference Model", presented at XML 2002 Conference and Exposition, December 8-13, 2002, Baltimore, Maryland, USA. (PDF version.) (Slides used in the presentation.)

"A Perspective on the Quest for Global Knowledge Interchange", Chapter 3 of XML Topic Maps - Creating and Using Topic Maps for the Web (Jack Park and Sam Hunting, eds.), 2003: Addison-Wesley. (The publisher makes this chapter available free at

"Forecasting Terrorism: Meeting the Scaling Requirements", a chairman's keynote address at Extreme Markup Languages 2002 (Montreal, August 2002). (PDF version.)

"Preemptive Reification", in Springer-Verlag's Lecture Notes in Computer Science, as part of the proceedings of the International Semantic Web Conference, June 2002. (You can browse this article at, or download a PDF version at

"Topic Maps for the Web" (with Michel Biezunski), IEEE Multimedia, April-June 2001. (You can download a PDF of this article at

"'s Processing Model for XTM 1.0, version 1.0.1: A Processing Model for XML Topic Maps" (with Michel Biezunski). Available on the web at since March, 2001. Several white papers on various topics, including inheritable SGML/XML architectures, standards-based IETMs, the industrial applications of grove technology, etc. Of special interest to those who have become disenchanted with "XML Namespaces", and who would like to see how XML vocabularies can be inherited in a meaningful and validatable fashion, according to ISO/IEC 10744:1997's "Architectural Forms" paradigm, is

Chapter on XLink in Prentice-Hall's The XML Handbook (Charles F. Goldfarb and Paul Prescod, eds.), 1998. (Also in the Second, Third, and Fourth Editions.)

"Document Architectures: What You Need to Know About the New HyTime," International SGML Users' Group Newsletter 3/4 (October 1997) 6-8. ISSN: 0952-8008.

“Adventures with Interactive Documents” in SGML Technology Applications in Government and Industry, 26 March 1996, Centre de recherche en droit public, Université de Montréal

"Dynamic Development and Refinement of HyperMedia Documents," with Lois M. L. Delcambre, Catherine Hamon, Michel Biezunski, and Radhika Reddy. Paper for EDBT 1996, 5th International Conference on Extending Database Technology, Avignon, France, March 25-29, 1996. Springer-Verlag Lecture Notes in Computer Science, Vol. 1057, 1996, ISBN 3-540-61057-X, pp. 359-362.

"Using the Information Addressing Model of HyTime (ISO 10744) to Add Hypermedia Functionality to Legacy Data and Systems," a paper presented at the Second International Workshop on Incorporating Hypertext Functionality into Software Systems, held in conjunction with the ACM Hypertext '96 conference, Washington, D.C.

"Multimedia Interchange Using SGML/HyTime. Part I: Structures" and "... Part II: Applications," IEEE MultiMedia 2/2-3 (Summer-Fall 1995). ISSN: 1070-986X

"SGML Architectures: Implications and Opportunities for Industry." The SGML Newsletter 8/8 (August 1995) 1-5. ISSN: 1067-9197

“SGML Architectures: A New Formalism for Interchanging Structured Information”, Proceedings of the Republic of China Computational Linguistics Conference VIII (1995)

"Some Background Information about HyTime" with Victoria T. Newcomb. Journal of the Institute of Image Electronics Engineers of Japan 21/5 (October 1992), pp. 459-467.

"Standard Music Description Language Complies with Hypermedia Standard." IEEE Computer 24/7 (July 1991) 76-79. ISSN: 0018-9162

"HyTime," with Neill Kipp and Victoria T. Newcomb, in Communications of the Association for Computing Machinery (CACM), November, 1991. This article, still conceptually correct but now somewhat obsolete with respect to the syntax of the current version of the HyTime standard, was reprinted in 1995 in the anthology, A Guided Tour of Multimedia Systems and Applications, IEEE Computer Society Press.

"Standard Generalized Markup Language (SGML; ISO/IEC 8879/1986)." Communications of the Association for Computing Machinery 34/11 (November 1991) 72-73. ISSN 0001-0782.

(Co-editor of ISO standards: 10744:1992, 10744:1997 "HyTime" Hypermedia/Time-based Structuring Language, 10743:1996 Standard Music Description Language, and 13250:2000 Topic Maps.)


"LASSO", a pioneering rule-based software system which interactively taught sixteenth century contrapuntal style, completed in 1983 and later described in an article in MIT's Computer Music Journal. It used AI techniques to detect well- and ill-formed contrapuntal phenomena in student-composed exercises, automatically annotating them with hypertext links to advisory materials. The system represented five years of development effort but it was made unpublishable because of an arbitrary and unwarranted technical policy decision by Control Data Corporation, the owner of the PLATO interactive graphics system for which it was written. The extreme frustration caused by this experience launched me into my present career of creating, implementing, and promulgating powerful, nonproprietary standards for the computer-mediated representation, interchange, and management of knowledge.

"Ottaviano," an interactive on-screen music editing software system for the PLATO system, 1977. Ottaviano was evidently the first interactive and notationally correct polyphonic on-screen common Western music graphic notation editor with a demonstrable professional purpose. This system had the ability to accept "written" responses from music students in standard music notation, and to play back what they have written via the Gooch Synthetic Woodwind Synthesizer, even when the students had no previous experience with computers, synthesizers, or the subject matter of a given music lesson. It was developed to support computer-based instruction in 16th century counterpoint for young composers, and it was actually used for that purpose in the Lasso system (see above).


Ph.D. Florida State University, Tallahassee, Florida USA, 1983. Music Theory.

M.F.A. California Institute of the Arts, Valencia, California, USA, 1975. Piano performance.

B.A. Haverford College, Haverford, Pennsylvania, USA, 1971. Philosophy.

Parting words ...

"... we should provide the maximum of opportunity for unknown individuals to learn of facts that we ourselves are yet unaware of and to make use of this knowledge in their actions... It is through the mutually adjusted efforts of many people that more knowledge is utilized than any one individual possesses or than it is possible to synthesize intellectually; and it is through such utilization of dispersed knowledge that achievements are made possible greater than any single mind can foresee."

(Hayek, Friedrich A. The Constitution of Liberty, 1960. 1971: University of Chicago Press, pp. 30-31.)