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Re: Uncool Gov URI's

From: Chris Beer <chris@e-beer.net.au>
Date: Fri, 17 Dec 2010 22:53:10 +1100
Message-ID: <4D0B4F26.3000200@e-beer.net.au>
To: chris-beer@grapevine.net.au
CC: daniel@citizencontact.com, Gannon Dick <gannon_dick@yahoo.com>, "W3C eGov Interest Group (All)" <public-egov-ig@w3.org>
Bah - used wrong account - pls reply to this one :) Apologies in advance 
if you consider this message spam

On 12/17/2010 10:51 PM, Chris Beer wrote:
> Hi Daniel
> On 12/15/2010 3:20 AM, daniel@citizencontact.com wrote:
>> Chris,
>> I think there are some critical missing pieces to what are points 
>> that you are making.
>> Policy/Legal Issues:
>> Putting aside the technical issues, there are legal and policy 
>> concerns. Specifically with governments, there are policy questions 
>> about authority and control of published documents. If a government 
>> publishes a link that is a redirect to the authentic document, like a 
>> handle such as the Thomas LOC handles for bills, there are clear 
>> methods of control by the US Government. If the LOC wants to change 
>> the redirects of the handles, an authorized entity can. Not so with 
>> most outsourced short URL systems. More importantly, the authority of 
>> the domain is outside the governance of the government. As you point 
>> out, using cute TLDs is a common practice, and for commercial 
>> entities it is clearly a smart marketing tool for their sites (but 
>> not for short URL uses)--not the same for governments.
> Absolutely - and you'll note that the Alice Brown examples I gave, 
> assumed that the primary owner of the domain was the organisation 
> using the service and that it wasn't third party.
> While I was stirring the pot a litle, and they were just thoughts - 
> something to generate discussion, I personally do very much see 
> shorteners as simply a technology - neither good or bad. Utlised the 
> right way in the right environment, with the right policy and 
> governance, then their use would constitute a better practice and can 
> assist in SemWeb, Accessibility, SEO etc.
> It is the third party usage that becomes dangerous, along with 
> redirect bouncing with "airspace" considerations as outlined in 
> various articles (happy to dig them up - huffington post and royal 
> pingdom both have some from memory that are well written) that makes 
> the Policy and Legals so important for usage. When I say that bit.ly 
> might be appropriate for a government - yes - for Libya it certainly 
> would be. And yes if another government opened an account and then 
> used a custom bit.ly link such as bit.ly/usa to point to usa.gov - 
> that's simply smart "brand protection" and you'd expect to see the 
> same gov do it across multiple shortening tools, if only to prevent 
> hijacks etc.
>> Another policy issue is identity. A URL normally uses the domain to 
>> identify the authority, but with many short URLs their is no clear 
>> identity. The destination URL will often have it, but that is a 
>> secondary
>> Technical problems with most URL redirects as opposed to cool URIs:
>> First, most short URLs that are used seem to not allow any changes. 
>> So if the destination is changed there may be no way to alter the 
>> redirect.
> Yes - this is a limit imposed by the providers, not the technology. 
> PURL is a 302 redirect service that does. Common free shorteners 
> don't. But this has an upside as well - it also prevents hijacking of 
> the shortcut by hackers to somewhere else if you point it to a 
> persistant URL to start with (such as an archived document). (ok - so 
> a hacker might be able to do it - but that's a pretty serious hacker 
> who can pull it off.)
>> Second, consider to adjacent documents with the similar URLs, like 
>> http://entity.gov/document/bill-1 and /bill-2. The short URLs will 
>> likely be uncool, such as http://bit.ly/sdfadea and /w8cs02x . And 
>> even if the system like at tinyurl.com where there is some control, 
>> it is used as more than a mnemonic than a well constructed URI 
>> despite your examples.
> True for an automated system. However the above aren't Cool URI's - 
> they are just shortened URLs. My argument is that a shortening service 
> controlled by the organisation, and that allows custom entries, will 
> produce Cool URI's, especially if there is solid governance around URI 
> naming conventions and IA.
>> Also, there are often short URLs for each time a document is 
>> mentioned, allowing for multiple redirect URLs for the same 
>> document--a veritable nightmare to administer.
> See above. One would assume that these cases (bit.ly is a prime 
> example of it) are automated, and that you simply can't administer 
> them. And that they are external pointers to an organisations 
> information. So for the purposes of administration, one could also 
> argue that if the content ever changed location, that the responsible 
> host of the content would put a proper 300 series redirect error in 
> place with a pointer to the new location.
>> I think that governments should concentrate on having well 
>> constructed URLs and offering templates or other method for 
>> predicting and/or discovering resources. Short URLs create multiple 
>> and extremely difficult to catalog URLs and almost useless for 
>> metadata purposes. Which is not to say that URLs should be as short 
>> as is possible, they should. The limitation of 140/160 characters for 
>> a message should be for the human readable portion, not a constraint 
>> that hinders the good use of the URI/domain system.
> Common frameworks and templates? You are preaching to the choir at my 
> end :) - Standards are good :)
> I would have to say though that again - don't confuse a short URI with 
> an automatically shortened URI. And judge the final product rather 
> than the service itself. A great semweb effort for a canny developer 
> would be to make a shortener that provides semantically cool URI's 
> based on the page title. (Hmm. Adding that one to my to-do list 
> actually...)
> A well constructed URI/URL, with the assistance of other techs such as 
> RDF, RDFa, ARIA, DC Metadata etc is obviously a better practice that 
> should always be promoted.
> It's good that we're all talking about this. We should cobble a Note 
> together about it... (Question 1: With regard my opening comment above 
> - what would this better practice look like. Looking at the UK and US 
> efforts as case studies - what can we learn - as these better practice 
> models?)
> Cheers as aways
> Chris
>> Daniel Bennett
>> -----Original Message-----
>> From: "Chris Beer"<chris@e-beer.net.au>
>> Sent: Tuesday, December 14, 2010 6:37am
>> To: "Gannon Dick"<gannon_dick@yahoo.com>
>> Cc: "W3C eGov Interest Group (All)"<public-egov-ig@w3.org>
>> Subject: Re: Uncool Gov URI's
>> Hmmm. An interesting conversation as I come back off holidays (yes - I
>> owe people some other replies - Gannon - watch out for one on LDA's in
>> Aust. tomorrow sometime :) ). And one that ties in nicely with the
>> earlier discussion on URI's and other tech's such as handle.net etc.
>> To throw some thoughts in the mix:
>> 1) Technically, the US started all this by opting to take over .com,
>> .net, etc instead of using .us - for shame. That instantly broke the
>> idea of TLD's being country specific.
>> 2) Quite a number of smaller countries, or states with small internet
>> presences, such as Greenland, Tonga, Libya, Colombia etc allow
>> registrars to openly sell second level domains in these TLD's to anyone
>> (or to those who cut appropriate deals) - therefore, as a straight up
>> business transaction, I don't see how Denmark (.dk) loses out.
>> 3) On top of this, you have the http://to./ shortening service, run by
>> the .to TLD authority themselves - and you thought goo.gl was a problem
>> re: IANA Root Zone and 3166-1. On top of this, Tonga doesn't even
>> operate a whois registry - it's like the Cayman Islands of the Internet.
>> 4) To further stir the pop on this discussion, I give you .tv - Tuvalu.
>> Now here is a case where A country pretty much sold off/leased the
>> rights to it's domain completely - Google is a bit player compared to
>> VeriSign in this case. In short - there are examples of atleast 50 TLD's
>> which are used as vanity URI's by commercial interests, or sold by
>> registrars for this reason.
>> Ok - so where am I going with all this.
>> *EVERY* URI (or old school URL) is a redirect - they all ultimately
>> resolve to an IP address. Even handle.net permanent URI's. Which makes
>> the UK and US approach to thier archiving and permanence as discussed by
>> Anne and David in another thread very valid - there really isn't a one
>> size fits all approach to redirects and Cool URI's - its horses for
>> courses and even bit.ly can work for some governments after appropriate
>> scoping. Sure we might debate whether go.us.gov is better than gov.us as
>> a shortener - end of the day we'll trust and use either knowing it is a
>> government service, without complaint.
>> The thing about a Cool URI isn't that it's permanent - after all -
>> permanence is an illusion - companies can go bust, countries can cease
>> to exist, IP addresses can simply go down. And it isn't it's semantic -
>> no where in any of the key Cool URI documents does it say that
>> example.com has to be semantic - in fact, Internationalized TLD's forces
>> a rethink of the semantics of the actual second level domain. The
>> semantics come AFTER the TLD. It's all the bits after the first /.
>> In that sense goo.gl/person/alice_brown is a perfectly valid Cool URI -
>> it has trust (I know it is reputable), it has provenence (I know it's
>> pretty reliable in terms of what it returns), and it makes for a perfect
>> permanent search query (google me everything about people called Alice
>> Brown.) And way easier to remember than
>> http://www.google.com/search?q=alice+brown
>> I'd expect that imdb.tv/person/alice_brown will return me an article on
>> Alice Brown, the actress. Or that t.co/person/alice_brown will take me
>> to the twitter account of Alice Brown. And that
>> w3.org/person/alice_brown will take me to the home page of Alice Brown
>> who works at the W3.
>> The domain gives context in a perfect Cool URI world, and assists in
>> determining uniqueness - it certainly, in reality, in the now, has
>> nothing to do with actual countries, no matter how much we want it to.
>> If it does, it can only really be seen as a pleasant coincidence.
>> Thoughts and flames always appreciated.
>> Cheers
>> Chris
>> On 12/14/2010 5:45 AM, Gannon Dick wrote:
>>> A recent contest involving Google's Chrome OS featured a contest 
>>> which involved recognition of the "Google URL Shortener" at 
>>> http://goo.gl/
>>> The "only" problems are that this convention conflicts with both the 
>>> IANA Root Zone [1] and ISO 3166-1 [2].
>>> This highlights the problem of "hand offs" between Central 
>>> Governments and Local Governments.  In this case, the Kingdom of 
>>> Denmark (an EU Member), has lost a measure of control of a 
>>> subdivision (Greenland) in Cyberspace.
>>> --Gannon
>>> [1] http://www.iana.org/domains/root/db/gl.html
>>> [2] http://www.iso.org/iso/iso-3166-1_decoding_table
Received on Friday, 17 December 2010 11:53:37 UTC

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