Globally Unique Identifier

Dave Vieglais vieglais at KU.EDU
Fri Sep 24 20:17:06 CEST 2004

Richard Pyle wrote:
>>I have to disagree - kind of.  A non-information-bearing GUID such as
>>one generated by a MAC, eg
>>is completely useless unless it only appears within the context of a
>>system that provides more information about what it actually is.
> Yes, that would be an assumption.  But not an unreasonable one.  I'm trying
> to imagine a scenario where I am presented with a series of MAC id's where I
> don't inherently understand the context.  I suppose if I came in to work and
> found such a number scribbled on a piece of paper, with no other
> information, I'd be in a fix to figure out what the number refers to.  But
> obviously that's not a realistic scenario.  I suspect that such IDs would be
> used by computers (not humans), and would only be exchanged among computers
> in some sort of semantic context; e.g., within the context of a DwC2 XML
> file, nestled between appropriate tags:
> <GlobalUniqueIdentifier>92AB5B37-70E9-4f05-9E97-CBABD08513ED</GlobalUniqueId
> entifier>
> ...these themselves nestled within further context tags.

Yes, certainly, a GUID within the context of an XML document is pretty
well defined by the schema, dtd or just it's loose association with
other elements in the document.

But what about if one appears in a journal article, a citation in a
policy document, etc?  It would be nice to be able to provide a unique
identifier as perhaps a footnote for a scientific name mentioned in a
document.  Or perhaps a system might be developed that provided an LSID
for a DiGIR query document- so the dataset could be completely recreated
just be hitting on the LSID (yes, one is under construction).  One could
imagine simply passing the LSID to another infrastructure that say,
estimated potential distribution, or highlighted relevant news reports
from an AP feed mentioning the species for which the query was created.
  Using a simple, meaningless GUID buys us none of this potential, and
forces us to always use a wrapper to provide a contextual basis on how
to interpret the identifier.

   Dave V.

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