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July 13, 2007

Making PURLs work for the Web of Data

An interesting snippet of news from OCLC:

OCLC Online Computer Library Center, Inc. and Zepheira, LLC announced today that they will work together to rearchitect OCLC's Persistent URL (PURL) service to more effectively support the management of a "Web of data."

(For more on Zepheira, see their own Web site and also the interview with Zepheira President Eric Miller by Talis' Paul Miller in the Talking with Talis series).

While it's good to see an emphasis on improving scalability and flexibility (I hope that will include improvements to the user interface for creating and maintaining PURLs - while the current interface is functional, I'm sure everyone would admit it could be made rather more user-friendly!), the most interesting (to me) aspect of the announcement is:

The new PURL software will also be updated to reflect the current understanding of Web architecture as defined by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C). This new software will provide the ability to permanently identify networked information resources, such as Web documents, as well as non-networked resources such as people, organizations, concepts and scientific data. This capability will represent an important step forward in the adoption of a machine-processable "Web of data" enabled by the Semantic Web.

This is excellent news. The current functionality of the PURL server tends to leave me with a slight feeling of "so near yet so far" when it comes to implementing some of the recommendations of the W3C - for example, the re-direct behaviour recommended by the W3C TAG's resolution to the "httpRange-14 issue". The capacity to tell the PURL server when my identified resource is an information resource and when it is something else, and have that server Do the Right Thing in terms of its response to dereference requests (which is how I'm interpreting that paragraph above!) will mean that there's one less thing for me to worry about handling, and will generally make it easier for implementers to follow the W3C's guidelines.

Good stuff. I look forward to hearing about developments.


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A while ago, I posted about plans to revamp the PURL server software to (amongst other things) introduce support for a range of HTTP response codes. This enables the use of PURLs for the identification of a wider range of... [Read More]


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