[Tdwg-tag] Why we should not use LSID

Roger Hyam roger at tdwg.org
Wed May 3 12:29:21 CEST 2006

Hi Rod,

 From the meeting report - which I am struggling to get back to - these 
two bullet points sum it up I think

·         There are certain things for which LSIDs are not appropriate. 
It would be legal to use them for RDF resource identifiers for 
controlled vocabularies and XML Schema locations BUT we would have to 
extend existing software libraries to do this which is not desirable.

·         *Recommendation:* LSIDs are not used for controlled 
vocabularies, ontologies or XML Schema locations. LSIDs should be used 
to refer to instances.

Basically it was felt that if we used LSIDs for things like rdfs:Class 
definitions then any library that went off to fetch the definitions 
automatically would have to be extended so that it understood LSID 
resolution. On the other hand it was felt that use of LSIDs for real 
resources (things we are actually describing like specimens and people) 
was fine. Once an ontology is loaded then it is all fine though so to an 
extent this may be a false problem.

We spent a long time talking about what is part of the ontology and what 
isn't and went round in circles (please lets not do it again). Basically 
class and property descriptions should be URL type URIs but instance 
URIs can be LSIDs. If you want to define the genus /Rhododendron/ as 
being an OWL DL class retrieved remotely then you should probably give 
it a URL. If you want to define it as a data item then use a LSID.

I think Gregor's worries (correct me if I am wrong Gregor) are that in 
SDD (possibly our whole domain) many things could be considered classes 
and properties. i.e. Things you want your reasoner to use in the 
reasoning rather than simply reason about. In this case it may be better 
to have URLs for everything.

There is a niggling doubt (in my mind) that we may come across 'cool' 
tools and libraries that assume that *all *resource URIs are URLs and 
that we would not be able to use them or would need to extend them if we 
use LSIDs. Imagine a semantic web browser where you click on a node and 
it fetches the associated resource to expand itself.

I do occasionally struggle to see the advantages of LSIDs as GUIDs over 
just conventions for use of URLs but these may be matters of personal 
faith.  Another bullet point in the report says:

·         *Recommendation: *GUIDs Group should issue a document clearly 
justifying adoption of GUID technology. The advantages need to be 
clearly explained.

I'll try and get this report out ASAP but it looks very similar to the 
wiki page here:


Obviously would be grateful for your thoughts.


Roderic Page wrote:
> Dear Gregor,
> For the benefit of those not at TAG 1, can you please explain why  
> "LSIDs are not interoperable with semantic web technologies"?
> Regards
> Rod
> On 2 May 2006, at 16:44, Gregor Hagedorn wrote:
>> Note that part of my concern about the use of concept when talking  
>> about
>> classes/properties/data elements is that I more and more believe we  
>> will want
>> to use ontology reasoners for uses other than software design, i.e. as  
>> part of
>> what we currently consider data (taxon names, concepts, rank  
>> hierarchy, parts
>> of organisms, properties of organisms, etc.). All these are ontological
>> concepts, and efforts www.plantontology.org do use OWL to reason on  
>> them.
>> The SDD presentation (the one not held in EDI, attached) contained some
>> examples how we might want to query our data - in ways that  
>> OWL-for-software-
>> design seems not to cover - and which using LSIDs would even prevent.
>> Please discuss:
>> http://wiki.tdwg.org/twiki/bin/view/TAG/WhyWeShouldNotUseLSIDs
>> http://wiki.tdwg.org/twiki/bin/view/TAG/UsePURLsAsGUIDs
>> Gregor
>> ----------------------------------------------------------
>> Gregor Hagedorn (G.Hagedorn at bba.de)
>> Institute for Plant Virology, Microbiology, and Biosafety
>> Federal Research Center for Agriculture and Forestry (BBA)
>> Königin-Luise-Str. 19           Tel: +49-30-8304-2220
>> 14195 Berlin, Germany           Fax: +49-30-8304-2203
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> ------------------------------------------------------------------------ 
> ----------------------------------------
> Professor Roderic D. M. Page
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 Roger Hyam
 Technical Architect
 Taxonomic Databases Working Group
 roger at tdwg.org
 +44 1578 722782

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