[tdwg-tag] SourceForge LSID project websites broken - role for TDWG?

Roger Hyam rogerhyam at mac.com
Wed Apr 8 11:57:07 CEST 2009

General comments on decision making...

This is a technical discussion list. We are clever techie people.  
Given a challenge of X resources and Y requirements we can come up  
with a preferred list of solutions and probably implement one of them  
with our eyes closed.

To use a fine English idiom "you cut your cloth to suit your purse".  
We don't have a shared purse so arguments about how to cut our cloth  
will never be resolved. X is undefined and I am not sure Y is that  
well defined.

I know this is "chicken and egg" in that we need to come up with  
requirements to request a purse  but we really need to have some  
indication that some one will be willing to commit long term resources  
to the common good before we can present a menu of choices for what  
money could be spent on.

1.0 developers/year (in perpetuity) gets us a server or two managed to  
support some kind of DNS based SRV hosting or redirect services or  
Handle system with support for some library development and help desk  
stuff.  (Note I am not talking servers or meetings or reports or  
technology and I am talking commitment to pay people to have it as  
their responsibility to maintain the system both socially and  
technically - for the long term!!!).

Without the indication that some one (a consortium perhaps) is likely  
to formally commit to a minimum of this level of resources we are  
wasting our time talking about resolution mechanisms that are not DNS  
based i.e. variations on the PURL model.

If we don't have the money to build a walled garden we have to graze  
on the common with everyone else.


(BTW: I am not totally convinced that building a walled garden is the  
way forward but would happily come and graze in it if some benefactor  
would fund its perpetual maintenance).

On 8 Apr 2009, at 01:40, Donald.Hobern at csiro.au wrote:

> A few comments on semantic opacity...
> 1. My examples ("urn:lsid:csiro.tdwg.org:anic:12345") were  
> deliberately transparent (or at least translucent) to make it easier  
> to follow the example, but I would have no real problem with them  
> having a form more like "urn:lsid:bio-id.org:9876:12345".
> 2. I think a single-minded drive towards semantic opacity would be  
> as quixotic and self-destructive as anything we could do.  UUIDs are  
> nicely opaque, and we could build a DOI-like system which maps  
> individual UUIDs to their current locations.  Such an approach would  
> be painful and an administrative nightmare.  I also suspect that  
> such opaque identifiers would be resisted by most users.  If we step  
> away from such a pure implementation, the alternatives all embed  
> some kind of semantic cues which make the system operate better.   
> The form of a DOI encodes relevant data on the source of the  
> object.  PURLs and LSIDs do the same.  The point with semantic  
> opacity in the LSID specification is that it is not possible for a  
> client to make inferences about the location of data based on the  
> subelements within the LSID.  It is up to the resolver  
> implementations to determine how to return the data.  Once this  
> point is accepted, I would in fact say that the presence of some  
> semantic clues within the identifier text is a good thing.  The  
> clues may for various reasons no longer conform to the reality of  
> how the metadata are managed, but a user may still rapidly glean  
> relevant indications whether an identifier is worth resolving (it  
> may indicate that it relates to a nomenclatural record, or that it,  
> at least originally, was minted by some respected source).  I see  
> such clues as having the same kind of value which has enabled  
> Linnaean nomenclature to persist so long.  My preference for LSIDs  
> would therefore be for them to be like the ones Roger minted for BCI.
> 3. I also note that this discussion has suggested remarkable near- 
> unanimity from many people in their distaste for LSIDs.  However I  
> fear that the level of agreement would be little higher if we were  
> discussing DOIs, or PURLs.  Some of the objections have been that  
> LSIDs do not fit well with the key technologies of the semantic web  
> and that something more like PURLs would be the right course to  
> follow.  Other objections have related to the semantic near- 
> transparency of many LSIDs or the absence of strongly centralised  
> support with the implication that something more like DOIs would be  
> better.  Both arguments have value, but they point in different  
> directions.  The various identifier schemes make up a landscape  
> within which no identifier scheme represents an adaptive peak in all  
> contexts.  We need to develop applicability statements for how to  
> use several of these schemes as alternatives for biodiversity data  
> and we need to identify the drivers which may guide different  
> providers to different schemes for different purposes.
> Donald
> Donald Hobern, Director, Atlas of Living Australia
> CSIRO Entomology, GPO Box 1700, Canberra, ACT 2601
> Phone: (02) 62464352 Mobile: 0437990208
> Email: Donald.Hobern at csiro.au
> Web: http://www.ala.org.au/
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Bob Morris [mailto:morris.bob at gmail.com]
> Sent: Wednesday, 8 April 2009 2:04 AM
> To: Roderic Page
> Cc: Hobern, Donald (Entomology, Black Mountain); Roger Hyam; tdwg-tag at lists.tdwg.org
> Subject: Re: [tdwg-tag] SourceForge LSID project websites broken -  
> role for TDWG?
> A few non random comments on Rod's random comments on Donald's  
> proposal
> On Tue, Apr 7, 2009 at 11:19 AM, Roderic Page <r.page at bio.gla.ac.uk>  
> wrote:
>> A few random comments:
>> Donald wrote:
>>> InstitutionCode/CollectionCode/CatalogueNumber triple and to the
>>> three main substitutable elements in an LSID.  Some systems such as
>>> DOI may obscure the whoGeneratedTheData
> Rod responded:
>> This assumes that it's good to have lots of metadata embedded in the
>> identifier. This level of "branding" might be fine for specimens
>> (assuming each data provider has the ability to serve their own  
>> data),
>> but what about shared identifiers such as taxon names -- I suspect
>> having to "choose a brand" is going to be an obstacle to adoption for
>> just the identifiers that we most need to share. Identifiers such as
>> DOIs have less branding (although publishers have managed to attach
>> branding significant to the few digits after the "10." prefix).
> Bob cites:
> "LSIDs are intended to be semantically opaque, in that the LSID
> assigned to a resource should not be counted on to describe the
> characteristics or attributes of the resource that the LSID refers to.
> The users of the LSIDs are permitted to use individual components (as
> specified elsewhere in this document) of LSIDs - although the LSID
> component parts themselves should be treated as opaque pieces of the
> identifier." LSID spec, Section 8.
> It's regrettable that the LSID spec is so poorly written that it
> permits the useless term "should". Alas, I suppose that leaves room
> for argument with my position that LSIDs with embedded metadata are
> not LSIDs--they are something else based on the LSID syntax.  There's
> nothing inherently wrong with, oh, say, a Handles implementation based
> on prefacing LSID syntax with something controlled. See below.
> Rod remarks:
>> Note also that DOIs (and Handles) can be queried for metadata, see
>> Tony Hammnd's OpenHandle project (http://www.crossref.org/CrossTech/2008/10/the_last_mile.html
>>  and http://code.google.com/p/openhandle/), so we don't need to embed
>> this in the actual identifier itself.
> Bob replies
> DOIs \are/ Handles. This is the (unstated?) reason that
> http://wiki.tdwg.org/twiki/bin/view/GUID/TechnologyComparison is
> filled with comparisons of the form  "DOI:   Same as Handles"
> DOI is an implementation of Handles, with the additional treatment of
> things about which Handles  is silent . See
> http://www.doi.org/factsheets/DOIHandle.html  When I read that
> document casually, I come to the initial conclusion that Donald's
> proposal is essentially doing the same kind of extension to Handles
> (possibly a Good Thing if correct), except for allowing metadata in
> the identifier (yech!).
> --Bob
> -- 
> Robert A. Morris
> Professor of Computer Science
> UMASS-Boston
> ram at cs.umb.edu
> http://bdei.cs.umb.edu/
> http://www.cs.umb.edu/~ram
> http://www.cs.umb.edu/~ram/calendar.html
> phone (+1)617 287 6466
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