[tdwg-tag] Blog: UUIDs may be Dangerous

Roger Hyam rogerhyam at mac.com
Mon Nov 24 09:28:58 CET 2008

How do we get from using URLs to having a central service?  If we have  
a central service then we don't need to use URLs (we could use Handle,  
LSID or even UUID or all of them). The service is just a mapping from  
string to URL.

If we do advocate use of URLs we need guidelines on how to use them.  
They may be protocol dependent but they should be independent of other  
technologies. Should they be short? Should the be recognizable as  
permanent? Should they do HTTP Range 14 compliant 303 redirects? What  
is the return type? Content negotiation? etc etc

How about a central service that you can register any string with?  
This could run in parallel with an identifier service.....hmmmm?

BTW: It is funny that my blog on UUIDs got us to talking about not  
using LSIDs!


On 24 Nov 2008, at 08:11, Roderic Page wrote:

> And the fourth question is, at what point in a setting up a central
> service that registers and redirects do we realise that we're
> reinventing the wheel and take a hard look at Handles/DOIs?
> Regards
> Rod
> On 21 Nov 2008, at 14:39, Markus Döring (GBIF) wrote:
>> It's funny that nearly all of us consider stable URLs as the best
>> option by now, but we still decided to stay with LSIDs during TDWG.
>> The main argument for LSIDs during the TAG meeting was indeed a  
>> social
>> one: they look more stable, especially in printed publications.
>> But I have to support Gregor in that initial trust in stable URLs is
>> achieved by making the URL look stable. Finally it boils down to a
>> management problem, no matter if we use LSIDs, PURLs or whatever  
>> other
>> technology.
>> To get forward with this everlasting discussion:
>> Is there anyone left who would feel bad about moving to stable URLs?
>> And as a second question, should we have a central domain that
>> registers services and redirects to the resolving service, so that
>> people can move their service. Or do we trust the community to keep
>> their URLs stable themselves?
>> And if we prefer a central service, should we just use DNS and assign
>> subdomains for the individual services, e.g. http://rbgk13.tdwg.id/543-544-cfjf3f667
>> or assign paths within the URL to services, e.g. http://guid.tdwg.org/rbgk13/543-544-cfjf3f667
>> ?
>> Markus
>> On Nov 20, 2008, at 11:09 PM, Gregor Hagedorn wrote:
>>> Kevin writes
>>>> - ie they cannot be resolved using default HTTP resolution.  The
>>>> idea of
>>>> using the http proxy version of the LSIDs is a good way to get
>>>> around this,
>>>> but this does have some drawbacks:
>>>> -  1st you really need everyone to agree to use it everywhere,
>>>> which is a
>>>> bit difficult considering it is not at all part of the LSID
>>>> standard, and we
>>>> struggle to get "everyone" to do anything
>>>> - 2nd, it seems very much like a hack - you might as well just use
>>>> permanent
>>>> http urls - ie the main advantage of LSIDs in this case is the
>>>> "encouraging
>>>> a degree of thought before making URIs publically available".  But
>>>> we don't
>>>> really need to pick up the whole LSID overhead just to achieve  
>>>> this.
>>> 3rd: the system is complicated and it is difficult to guarantee that
>>> the sequence of reciprocal references is correct and in the right
>>> order and place. I believe you would need special validator tools to
>>> find errors in the system.
>>> And, most relevantly, I believe it will exclude many from
>>> participation, because the complexity is a bit scary.
>>>> So it seems to me like good old Plain Old URLs are just great!   :
>>>> -)
>>>> Or at least the suggestion of REST styled, permanent HTTP URLs as
>>>> GUIDs ???
>>> I fully agree. I believe LSIDs never were meant to be a technical
>>> solution, but rather a technical wedge to hammer in to achieve  
>>> social
>>> change. All the LSIDs really promise are different management
>>> practices.
>>> As argued in http://wiki.tdwg.org/twiki/bin/view/GUID/CommunityPracticesForHttp-basedGUIDs
>>> I think it is sensible to agree on a community agreed mechanism to
>>> keep some URLs more stable than others. That could be URLs  
>>> containing
>>> UUIDs, but I would argue for a social convention to agree on a
>>> recognizable string marking URLs that should be kept stable as long
>>> as
>>> possible and at least not re-assigned. There would be little harm to
>>> have a couple of such naming conventions, including e.g. non-english
>>> localizations, but one could be:
>>> x.y.net/stable-id/something/12317982
>>> Gregor
>>> -- 
>>> ---------------------------------
>>> Dr. Gregor Hagedorn
>>> Heinrich-Seidel-Str. 2
>>> 12167 Berlin
>>> skype: g.hagedorn
>>> This message is sent on a personal basis and does not constitute an
>>> activity of the German Federal Government or its research
>>> institutions.
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> ---------------------------------------------------------
> Roderic Page
> Professor of Taxonomy
> Graham Kerr Building
> University of Glasgow
> Glasgow G12 8QQ, UK
> Email: r.page at bio.gla.ac.uk
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