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Adrian Dale - Creatifica Associates
Creatifica Associates Ltd.
Information Management Insight
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Online Information 2009 – A success

The themes of Online 2009 were focused around the coming together of the pragmatic semantic web and the social web to create an online world with unparalleled opportunities for the library and information professions. 

 Judging from the feedback from many delegates, the conference structure and content worked well and there are many heads brimming full of ideas travelling back to the workplace tomorrow – hopefully to translate ideas into action.

Having retired from the Chairmanship today, I’d like to place on record my thanks to Lorna Candy the conference organiser and to the conference committee for their inspiration and support in devising the programme.  I know that my successor Steve Dale will find their continued support the key to success with Online 2010.

Tim Berners-Lee on Open Linked Data

RAW-DATA-NOW – This was the plea from Tim Berners-Lee at the TED conference as he exhorted the audience to push for the publication of linked data from every field of life.  For anyone who wonders what the point of the semantic web is, this is worth a look and the comments are worth a read – view video. It is clear from our planning for the Online 2009 conference that the semantic web has now come of age, albeit in the form of the Open Linked Data movement. We will be putting out a call for speakers shortly looking for the best examples of innovative information management using these principles.

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.