[tdwg-tag] LSID Sourceforge URL & LSID Best Practices

Jonathan Rees jar at creativecommons.org
Fri Aug 28 17:52:38 CEST 2009

On Thu, Aug 27, 2009 at 3:57 AM, Jim Croft<jim.croft at gmail.com> wrote:
> 1. Building mission-critical stuff around a single point of failure
> without distributed replicated redundancy is amateurish, ultimately
> doomed to failure, and I am amazed that everybody does it.   The drive
> for an easy solution with smart response times wins every time.  IMO,
> the Australia's Virtual Herbarium took a step backward when it moved
> from a distributed to a cached solution without building in fail-over
> redundancy.  Yes, the new version is quicker but when it does not work
> you are clean out of luck.  If we are going to build anything that is
> going to become mission-critical and expect people to use it, then I
> want more than one of them.

The recent LSID sourceforge failure was not a technical failure; it
was an administrative one. Many people had the  password required to
fix the site, but none was taking care of the problem. Having multiple
A records directing to redundant servers would not have helped if none
of those servers had the correct content.

Assuming the administrative powers are willing to make the necessary
resolution configuration changes (such as establishing A records or
reconfiguring a server), then the technical setup can be improved over
time as needed. That is, one can start out with a single technical
point of failure, and then switch to a redundant system as resources
and motivation for one improve. But all the technical prowess in the
world can't cause a URI or handle to resolve properly if there is not
the willingness to make it do so from those who control the namespace.

This is, of course, an argument in favor of systems (such as the
Linnaean one) that don't rely on a central resolution authority, but
rather allow consumer choice by encouraging a market for name
resolvers (Harvard's library doesn't have that genus revision? Try
Yale's). Instituting something like this in any general way is
probably beyond the abilities and interests of today's purveyors of
web infrastructure. The fact that ICANN and DNS work as well as they
do prevents anyone from working on an administratively decentralized

That said, I agree completely that redundancy is a great thing for
both technical and administrative reasons, and should be encouraged
even if the replica has to be accessed via different URIs than the
original. Ad hoc client (or server, or proxy) software can convert
published (unresolvable) URIs to replica URIs for the time being, and
maybe in the future there might even be standards for configuring
resolver choice - maybe even inside web browsers.


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