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RE: ZNG dicussion

From: Sebastian Hammer <quinn@indexdata.dk>
Date: Thu, 27 Sep 2001 15:32:46 +0200
Message-Id: <>
To: www-zig@w3.org

For what it's worth, my main problem with ZNG is that I believe it 
threatens the success of Z39.50 *in any form*. Why? Because it doesn't 
solve any current business need of the libraries that are currently using 
Z39.50. That means uptake will be slow and sporadic. In the meantime, it 
sucks the attention of the ZIG away from the concrete busines needs of 
libraries, and it confuses potential implementor's about our intentions -- 
like that big fat link to ZNG that Ray used to keep on the maintenance 
agency front page but which he has now thankfully removed.

Here's a perspective from the Danish deployment of Z39.50. Your mileage may 

Virtually any major library system vendor on the market has already 
implemented Z39.50. Interoperability at the encoding and protocol level is 
pretty much problem free (because of ASN.1 or in spite of it -- it makes no 
difference). What libraries desperately *do* need is a standardised way to 
exchange holdings info. They need someone to take the lead in proposing a 
standard mechanism for handling loan requests that can be used together 
with Z39.50. They need clean-cut profiles to take the ambiguity out of 
Bib-1. They need to resolve a whole host of semantic and functional 
interoperability issues having to do with the different ways that different 
search engines work, and what they are and aren't capable of. ZNG does 
*not* address these issues. Even if the ZIG miraculously manages to get all 
the vendors to implement ZNG, or to acquire and integrate suitable 
gateways, when the dust clears, libraries will still be struggling with the 
exact same problems that they are struggling with today.

In my opinion, it's not the time or place for the ZIG to define a new 
information retrieval protocol. If the XML community comes up with one and 
it is picked up by industry, then by all means let's look at it. But I 
don't think the ZIG has the clout, or the breath of requirements required 
to propose a new protocol that will become widespread outside of libraries.

What we need to do, again in my opinion, is to attack with great vigor 
those real-life business requirements of libraries that are trying *today* 
to do real work with Z39.50, and to come up with new interesting things 
they can do with the protocol. By all means let's improve the 
specifications and the APIs to make our work easier... but to sit here and 
geek out over encodings when we don't yet have the semantic stuff under 
control is just plain dumb.

Just my 2 Euro cents.

Received on Thursday, 27 September 2001 09:33:53 UTC

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