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Adrian Dale - Creatifica Associates
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JIS 35(2) Published

The April 2009 issue of the Journal of Information Science has been published.  A fascinating article by David Bawden and Lyn Robinson discusses the “The dark side of information: overload, anxiety and other paradoxes and pathologies” and the new challenges posed by Web 2.0 – loss of identity, shallow novelty and the impermenance of information.

How uncool – repository URIs

As part of his efforts to re-promote the concepts of “cool URIs”, Andy Powell has just completed a review of the URI designs for the UK’s university e-repositories.  Given that these repositories are designed to provide persistent access to the output from research programmes, persistent identifiers would seem to be essential.  The results were surprisingly disappointing, with most institutions having committed at least one of the cardinal sins:

  • Building the name of the repository software into their URIs
  • Allowing the use of the underlying technology stack (.aspx, .php, .html) to appear in the URIs
  • Using a non-standard port to access the repository
  • Building the name of an organisational unit into the URI
  • Using a “jazzy” project name as part of the URI (remember the Amazon obidos!)
  • Outsourcing to a third party – losing the institutional focus – and being reliant on 3rd party URIs

How can this have happened?  Why have these organisations not thought through their naming and addressing policy and design rules?  The answer is surprisingly simple.  Most of the people in charge of web implementations have not been sensitised to the importance of addressing – “cool URIs” as Tim Berners-Lee called them in 1998.  I lectured this week in a UK library school and from what I could see, the question of digitial identifiers and  the importance of their effective management featured no where in the curriculum..  And yet what was the ISBN if not the precursor of persistent identifiers?

Your Website is Your API: Quick Wins for Government Data

Knowing my passion for URIs, Peter Winstanley from the Scottish Government brought this article by Jeni Tennison to my attention. She lays out the three key things that public sector web sites need to do using a URI based model to achieve it:

  • identify the data that you control
  • represent that data in a way that people can use
  • expose the data to the wider world
  • She lays out a strong business case and clear examples – so let’s follow them!

    Helicon ISAPI/Rewrite 3.0 now available

    We have only just noticed that Helicon have released version 3.0 of their ISAP/Rewrite module for ISS servers. This replicates the age old Apache Mod_rewrite module that we have all come to rely on. Clients have long lamented the fact that IIS hasn’t been able to do effective URL rewriting and a number are waiting until future promised versions of Windows Server and IIS. Version 3.0 looks to be a major step forward from version 2.0 and with a 45-day free trial – where is the risk? And no we are not on commission! In our projects we couldn’t do without the Apache .htaccess facilities that allow us to design effective addressing schemes. Relying on the vagaries of poorly designed IT implementations to deliver machine/application specific URLs should now be a thing of the past.

    OpenID Features on Digital Planet

    On his eFoundations blog Andy Powell has recently been commenting that the era for OpenID may be dawning and judging by the BBC World Service episode of Digital Planet broadcast on 17th February 2009 he may be right. In this Episode OpenID and Twitter have equal billing – no mean feat!

    I’ve certainly been using the tips pointed to by Andy and now use my URI as my OpenID