Monday, January 31, 2011

In-house commenting systems may not be necessary

Somewhat wishy-washy title, I know.

But here's my point, I look forward to a world of stable URIs for intellectual content in which responses to scholarship and primary data are distributed around the Net.

A case in point, my NYU colleague Chuck Jones blogged about the digitization of some of Blegen's diaries by the American School of Classical Studies.

If you look at the bottom of the post, you'll see that he included the Pleiades URI's for both Mycenae and Tiryns.

It is now the case that a Google search for the Tiryns URI lists Chuck's AWOL post.

Assuming that ASCSA doesn't move that resource to a different URI and that the post remains available, stable URIs for Tiryns and Mycenae have now been permanently associated with the ASCSA resource. And that with the publisher of the information doing nothing. (Though it would be nice if ASCSA ditched the "index.php" from their URIs. See here.)

And note that I'm walking a fine line in this post. The Pleiades URIs that Chuck included explicitly in his post don't appear in the text of mine. I don't see any reason to clog up the Google search with this meta-meta-commentary.

By way of slightly living up to the title, my point is that such a decentralized "commenting system" should be encouraged. If you're able to link from your content to a stable URI that more-or-less represents the same concept, do so. And use such URIs when you're talking about other's people's work. That will encourage a distributed network of publication and response that is robust, open and encompasses many forms of expression from tweets, to blogposts, to more formal work, and beyond.


John Muccigrosso said...

You express some worry about ASCSA's URI remaining stable (while hoping that it changes!), but what about Chuck's blog?

Sebastian Heath said...

Yeah, I'm probably trying to having it both ways by using this example. I put that down to recognition that we're in a phase of developing and "cross-informed" best practices. The ASCSA web sites are great and there are many stable looking URIs. E.g. . But anything with "index.php" is cause for concern. As it becomes worthwhile to make URI stable (and stable looking), people will take more and more care to do so. I'm confident of that.

Chuck's post: I think it will be available at the URI "for a long time". But more permanently, the use of the Pleiades URI will continue to associate his content with the concepts represented by those URIs so long as the post's text is available somewhere it can be indexed. So, here's another principle: the use of stable URIs is itself a promoter of the longevity of the scholarship using those stable URIs.

I assume that a complex, decentralized world is both here and will remain. It's dealing with that reality that is interesting to me.

Andy said...

You should check out the Open Annotation Collaboration data model ( It offers a fairly generalized approach to web-centric annotations. They're looking for use cases as well.