WorldCat Institution Registry and Identifiers

Pete Johnston, eFoundations, Feb 21, 2007
Commentary by Stephen Downes

Good articulation of the author's thoughts around the WorldCat Institution Registry service provided by OCLC. What interests me here is that the 'info' protocol being used creates the same sorts of questions in his mind as the use of Handle in things like CORDRA creates in mind. We both wonder, "Why not use HTML?" because "I can't - at least without some additional information - take one of those URIs that has been given to me by email, by telephone etc, and obtain a representation of the resource. While the info URI scheme shares some of the characteristics of the http URI scheme as an identification mechanism, there is no widely deployed mechanism for dereferencing an info URI. While there is no global method for dereferencing info URIs, the info URI scheme does provide for individual 'namespace authorities' to specify dereferencing mechanisms for URIs on a 'per namespace' basis, and to disclose those methods via the info URI Namespace Registry. Clearly that introduces additional complexity - and ultimately cost - for dereferencing." And... and... control. Read IETF's spec: "The 'info' URI scheme applies to a class of resource identifiers whose Namespace Authorities MAY or MAY NOT choose to disclose service mechanisms." Why oh why oh why can't OCLC use real live URLs? There's a lot of people out there with real control issues, and they are determined to break the internet for the rest of us.
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