VALA 2008: Making Identifiers Concrete

by Luke Wroblewski February 7, 2008

Stuart Weibel’s Making identifiers concrete (so library places and spaces don't have to be) plenary session at VALA 2008 discussed the importance of canonical, well-structured identifiers to fulfilling the role of libraries in the digital future.

  • Libraries are trusted sources of information. Search engines are trusted about the same.
  • Overwhelming brand image of libraries is books not sources of all types of information. Libraries need a strong, visible brand on the Web.
  • Social software is currently fueled by dollars so the rate of innovation & failure is rapid. Important for established institutions to distinguish between trends and trendy.
  • Web is great metaphor but perhaps we need something more durable. Libraries identifier structures can provide coherence & context. The can provide scaffolding.
  • Broad dissemination of identifiers are the single most compelling means of making library assets persistent and visible on the Web.
  • Design parameters for identifiers in the global library community include:
  • Persistence: a function of organizational commitment. Most important aspect of an effective identifier system.
  • Universal Access & Global Scope: Get global uniqueness for free on the Web. Every URL must be unique.
  • Search Engine Optimization: make assets visible in global library using canonical identifiers. Currently lots of identifier schemes results in lack of integration.
  • Branding: a URL is a micro-billboard for content.
  • Usability: URL should be designed for people as well as machines. Should be speakable and as short as possible.
  • Accessibility: for anyone or any application
  • Stand alone: attribution, clear intellectual property rights

More details on Stuart's talk can be found on Connecting Librarian: VALA 2008 Conference - Stuart Weibel