How GUIDs will be used

Roderic Page at BIO.GLA.AC.UK
Mon Jan 30 14:27:34 CET 2006

> We need to decide under which circumstances we want this to be a
> bidirectional implication, i.e. that:
> B)   O1 == O2 --> I1 == I2

My 30 second reaction to this is that it assumes that the metadata
attached to I1 and I2 are the same, which may often not be the case.
For example, a paper may have several GUIDs attached to it, it is in
some sense the same object, but PubMed offers different metadata to
CrossRef (links to sequences, MeSH keywords, etc., versus strictly
bibliographic data), which is different to Google Scholar (links to
papers that cite the work), different to handles in DSpace repositories
(GUID for a freely available copy), and so on.

Can we not, at least initially, have a mapping between GUIDs, and then
if somebody wants to take on the task of generating single GUIDs for a
set of related GUIDs, then they can undertake that? I suspect that,
realistically, such an undertaking would only be feasible (and indeed,
useful) if we first have GUIDs for the existing databases in place.

Yes, a plethora of ids can be a pain (just look at the situation in
bioinformatics) -- that said, the abundance of identifiers in
bioinformatics reflects the desire of people to add value to existing

So long as we can infer that I1 and I2 are both talking about O1, why
force I1==I2, when metadata(I1) and metadata(I2) may be different, and
both have value.

I think we need to separate two goals: having unique, resolvable
identifiers for existing objects, and sorting out the issue of
multiple, possibly conflicting identifiers and metadata for the "same"
object. One is easier, one is harder, but I think the hard one needs
the easy one to be solved first.

But then I'm probably simply being both naive and impatient, which is
not a good combination.



Professor Roderic D. M. Page
Editor, Systematic Biology
Graham Kerr Building
University of Glasgow
Glasgow G12 8QP
United Kingdom

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