Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Sunday, December 03, 2006

"What would a Web 2.0 repository look like?"

Andy Powell, Repositories and Web 2.0, eFoundations, November 27, 2006.  Excerpt:

At a couple of meetings recently the relationship between digital repositories as we currently know them in the education sector and Web 2.0 has been discussed....I found myself asking "What would a Web 2.0 repository look like?"....

More recently, there has been a little thread on the UK list about the mashability of digital repositories.  However, it struck me that most of that discussion centered on the repository as the locus of mashing - i.e. external stuff is mashed into the repository user-interface, based on metadata held in repository records.  There seemed to be little discussion about the mashability of the repository content itself - i.e. where resources held in repositories are able to be easily integrated into external services.

One of the significant hurdles to making repository content more mashable is the way that identifiers are assigned to repository content.  Firstly, there is currently little coherence in the way that identifiers are assigned to research publications in repositories.  This is one of the things we set out to address in the work on the Eprints Application Profile.  Secondly, the 'oai' URIs typically assigned to metadata 'items' in the repository are not Web-friendly and do not dereference (i.e. are not resolvable) in any real sense, without every application developer having to hardcode knowledge about how to dereference them.  To make matters worse, the whole notion of what an 'item' is in the OAI-PMH is quite difficult conceptually, especially for those new to the protocol.

Digital repositories would be significantly more usable in the context of Web 2.0 if they used 'http' URIs throughout, and if those URIs were assigned in a more coherent fashion across the range of repositories being developed.