XCMTDMW: Has it Really Been 11 Years?
Even though my understanding and ideas have refined and evolved over the years, it's remarkably consistent with what I've been saying in this thread. I would now replace the focus on entities with a focus on link-based re-use but the overall architecture is very much the same.
Another interesting historical footnote is the paper I wrote with Dr. Steve Newcomb and Peter Newcomb on "Referent Tracking Documents": http://www.coolheads.com/SRNPUBS/ref-track-docs-paper.pdf.
This paper describes a technique for using simple storage object versioning and straightforward link markup to represent links in a managable way. The key to this was that it provided, in the simplest possible way, a standards-based approach to capturing and managing complex element-to-element linking information. Of course we never expected that you would literally implement a system using huge collections of little documents but you could if you wanted to and it would work. It would just be really slow (or maybe not so slow--parsing XML is pretty fast and the files are small). At a minimum it provided a standards-based interchange representation for an arbitrarily complex link index. I've never actually tried to implement a system that used this approach literally, although the Bonnell and XIRUSS systems both reflect the ideas, just not expressed as literal XML structures (but they could be using exactly these techniques).
In any case, those ideas are now reflected more abstractly in the SnapCM model but the basic concept is the same, in particular the approach of using a reference to a resource (in the SnapCM sense) plus a resolution policy to address a specific version or versions. That paper was given in 1999.