Re: infoURI standard officially blessed

From: Stefano Mazzocchi <>
Date: Sun, 13 Nov 2005 18:49:17 -0500

MacKenzie Smith wrote:
> FYI, Tony Hammond at NPG pointed out to me that the info URI proposal
> has received the blessing of the IETF and is now an Official Standard
> NISO will maintain the namespace registry and let's hope they set it up
> soon!
> This will be a great help to us once the registry gets going as a way to
> reference
> things like PubMed records and published journal articles in a
> standardized URI
> kind of a way... we can even urge organizations like the Getty to
> register their
> vocabs so that we don't have to invent any more URIs!

Hmmm, one step forward and two step backwards.

This URI scheme is really a URN scheme and it's not able to locate anything.

Sure it's useful as identification but completely useless for discovery
as I wouldn't know how to ask for more info about that URI.

Has the same exact problems that Handles, DOIs, LSIDs and all the other
domain-specific IDs have: you need yet-another DNS system to get to the
information, with no particular benefit if not the one that yet-another
organization is in control of that addressing resolution space.

While it's perfectly human that trust is clusterized and never global,
it is also extremely frustrating, as a developer, to see such moves and,
more important, to be considered as valuable for the ecosystem while
they just introduce more work for no value other than more abstraction
from the real problems.

is as unique as


or now


but with the first I know what to do to get more info out of it (and
using HTTP content negotiation, I can ask for an HTML page or an RDF
page) with the other two, I need to ask yet another DNS (which is
currently unspecified!!) to give me a URL to locate that URI.

Why? What is the benefit? that I can use another protocol rather than
HTTP to get out information? why would I ever want that? HTTP is perfect
for these kind of things! the simplest thing that can possibly work.

If you want to talk about stuff, any identifier is equivalent.

But if you want to build a semantic web, you need to be able to locate
stuff or it's going to be utterly useless as a global coordination effort.

I will sound like TimBL here but I really don't believe these
non-dereferenceable URI schemes are really helping out.

They sure remove the pressure from the domain name that is tasked to do
the rereferencing, but this pressure is not gone, is just displaced...
and hidden under a carpet of unspecified registry lookup.

So, if I have to take


transform it into

which redirects to

which redirects to

why is this better than starting out with


The usual answer in computer science is: if you don't know how to solve
a problem, just add another level of indirection.

That's how this "info" URN scheme feels to me.

Stefano Mazzocchi
Research Scientist                 Digital Libraries Research Group
Massachusetts Institute of Technology            location: E25-131C
77 Massachusetts Ave                   telephone: +1 (617) 253-1096
Cambridge, MA  02139-4307              email: stefanom at mit . edu
Received on Sun Nov 13 2005 - 23:43:19 EST

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