[tdwg-guid] An approach to Abstract LSIDs[Scanned] [SEC=UNCLASSIFIED]

Greg Whitbread ghw at anbg.gov.au
Mon Jul 16 17:26:08 CEST 2007

Now I am worried. This is becoming very confusing.

For a while there I almost believed that we might use LSID's as unique 
identifiers but ... I (CANB) simply cannot afford the risk associated 
with any implementation of LSID's within our database as either object 
keys or instance identifiers when what we really need is to stay with 
our trusted, persistent and opaque surrogates.

But given that we already use a GUID to manage the identity of an 
object, the LSID still adds two very useful methods to our persistence 

getData to return to a particular instance of an object (same state) and;

getMetadata to establish relationships within and between states.

The LSID becomes a surrogate for a query about an object rather than the 
object itself.  The relationship object:LSID is one to many.

To meet out TDWG obligations we will deliver data sets about objects 
uniquely identified by LSIDs and we will establish the necessary 
resolvers.  The question of underlying persistence implied by this 
agreement is another matter.  There is nothing in the candidate standard 
to assist data providers deal with the issues of object, or instance, 
identity management and many will simply find it beyond their resources 
and/or capabilities.

Perhaps there is a way, peer-to-peer like, if providers can be convinced 
to use both object and instance identifiers, for our aggregators to 
provide services delivering the kinds of metadata and instance 
persistence required. I don't think that is going to come from many 

While LSIDs may provide a useful framework for managing and testing 
object persistence their true value will still lie in the guarantee, 
even if ephemeral or without the benefits of resolution, of an object's 
identity and provenance; and in the advantages their mere presence in a 
dataset can offer to both providers and users of these data.


Richard Pyle wrote:
>> Isn't this where I came in last week Rich?
> Sort of....but we weren't clear back then about the role of the "Abstract"
> LSID that would encompass all of the many database-record LSIDs.  I know
> this is almost a no-brainer for those who have been part of the LSID
> discussions over the years, but I think part of our confusion is that we're
> talking about data-bearing LSIDs applied to database records as if *they*
> would be the LSIDs we also use to represent the abstract notion of "the
> name".
>> The LSID urn:lsid:indexfungorum.org:names:178962 is assigned 
>> to the IF database record for Amanita phalloides (the 
>> deathcap - used as one of the EoL sample species pages [well 
>> done EoL]). 
> Right -- so this is really a "Name Usage" instance -- that is, the usage of
> the name "Amanita phalloides" by Index Fungorum.  Or, maybe it's a usage
> instance from some other publication that IF index, like the original
> description (=protologue) of the name "Amanita phalloides".
>> If I recall correctly the
>> getData() returns "Amanita phalloides" 
> Not according to Kevin (who agrees with me on the data-less LSIDs for names)
> -- but he can answer that himself when he gets back to his email (I think he
> and Sally are just now getting onboard a plane leaving Hawaii as I type
> this).
>> [not the primary key 
>> of the database record, which is 178962 - Rich, why did you 
>> restrict the getData() to returning a PK?]
> My rationale is this:  If getData() returns a bytestream (rather than
> nothing), then pretty-much by definition the LSID identifies a digital
> object -- not an abstract object.  The "name" is an abstract object, with no
> digital (or even physical) manifestation.  So, if the LSID returns binary
> data via getData(), then the LSID identifies a digital object, which in the
> scenario I described would be a computer database row (reocrd).  I suggested
> the PK as a "natural" binary representation for a database record because
> it's the attribute of a database record that is LEAST likely to even need to
> be changed.  Technically, if the PK changes, then you're really talking
> about a *different* database row, and as such, it would be a different
> digital object, and as such, it would need a new LSID.
> In most cases, the content of other columns (fields) in a database record
> are more subject to change.  If you embedded content of other columns/fields
> into the "data" part of the LSID, then you would be duty-bound (per LSID
> specs) to generate a new LSID everytime you changed any part of any
> column/field that was included within the scope of "data" returned by
> getData().
> Because I like he idea of GUID reusability, my inclination would be to
> follow a protocol that least necessitated the generation of new GUIDs for
> objects that I would otherwise intuitively think to be the "same" thing.
> Frankly, the biologist in me is FAR more interested in GUIDs for abstract
> objects (i.e., objects without inherent digital manifestation, such as taxon
> names, specimens, etc.), than I am interested in GUIDs that identify
> specific database records.
>> Is this your proposed solution Rich?
> Not exactly....but I only had 5 hrs sleep last night, and it's been a REALLY
> long day (11pm now), so it's probably best for everyone concerned that I
> shut up now and go to bed....
> :-)
> Aloha,
> Rich
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Australian Centre for Plant BIodiversity Research<------------------+
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