Marc Canter just blogged about a comment on his blog by Stephen Downes. This is timely, though honestly, I wanted to focus writing on the Trust meme a little more before diving into this topic. What Stephen and Marc are getting at is the tip of the iceberg. It also goes right to the heart of an assertion that I have heard many times before (I believe this is a point that Steve Gillmor has made on the Gillmor Gang podcast – but i can’t find the appropriate quote). The assertion is that a URI is the PERMANENT location of the content. That you can use all these cloud tools as long as you can get to your content via a URI.
Well, the notion of permanence is or URIs is plainly wrong. Also, the notion that your content should be in one place only and then spread around all over the place via hyperlinks is as old as the term – Ted Nelson – HyperText – Transclusion. I mean, get a copy of Literary Machines and get back to me.
To power this ability for you to own your content and store it anywhere you damn please – and move it around – and not break and applications or documents that rely on it, you need a service like DNS for content. You need to be able to reassign the rights to your content – sell it, give it away, relinquish control in some way. This already exists as well. Has for a long long time. Courtesy of CNRI – ask Bob Kahn – it’s called the Handle System and it is application the DOI (Digital Object Identifier) System.
This is what it does:
This is why they did it:
- 1996 proposal from the three major international publishing trade associations to develop infrastructure for digital publishing; they brought together expertise in numbering content (the ISO standard ISBN) and expertise in digital network technology (CNRI)
- Need in the digital supply chain for an equivalent of the analogue bar code: migration from analogue to digital networked content cannot rely on URLs as identifiers (e.g., due to "linkrot": "404 not found")
So please, let’s not reinvent the wheel – there is so much good thought in this system – it is in place – take the time to grok it – then use it.