identifiers for geologic samples

Roderic Page at BIO.GLA.AC.UK
Sat Jan 28 08:58:02 CET 2006

On 28 Jan 2006, at 01:02, Richard Pyle wrote:

> The more I think about it, the more I think this is the sort of system
> that
> would work well for our field.  A centralized issuer (which could issue
> blocks of thousands or millions of numbers at a time),

The major problem I see with this is that a central registry may be a
rate limiting step because it has to allocate blocks, it would also
decide for format of the last part of the identifier (which the
provider might not find desirable), and it may well lead to lots of
wasted identifiers (e.g., it allocates 100,000 to me, but I use 3 off

Would it not be better to devolve this? You can still have a central
registry. For example, Handles and DOIs work by having a central
registry for the prefix (e.g., "1018") and the provider is responsible
for allocating the suffix locally.

> I'm not sure how wise it would be to create a new syntax standard,
> rather
> than go with one of the ones we've discussed.  But if (for example)
> using
> LSID, I personally think it would be preferable to establish a highly
> generic form, such as:

Without wishing to preempt some of the things I'm going to present at
the workshop, I'm going off LSIDs a little because of their reliance on
the Internet DNS. Apart from the hassle of mucking with the DNS records
to set them up (I suspect not every provider is going to find this easy
to do), it assumes that the Internet its present form is going to be
here forever, and it also embeds information in the identifier (e.g.,
"") that currently has meaning, but over time may loose
meaning, or worse, be positively misleading (say if GBIF goes belly up
and somebody else serves the data).

Handles (including DOIs) and ARK have no information in the identifier
(perhaps not strictly true for some DOIs, but that's by choice not
design), and also in principle don't need the internet. In the future
some other mode of information transport may come along, and they could
still be used.

While it might be hard to imagine the Internet and the DNS going away,
if anybody has a 5 1/4" floppy lying around, they'll be aware of how
hard it is to get information off it these days as 5 1/4" drives are
scarce as hens teeth -- the only one in my department is in an old PC
that is connected to the network. The digital library community seem
particularly sensitive to these issues, which is perhaps why they use
handles, DOIs, and ARK.



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

Phone:    +44 141 330 4778
Fax:      +44 141 330 2792
email: at

Subscribe to Systematic Biology through the Society of Systematic
Biologists Website:
Search for taxon names at
Find out what we know about a species at

Yahoo! Messenger - NEW crystal clear PC to PC calling worldwide with voicemail

More information about the tdwg-tag mailing list