Permanent Identifiers for the Web Project Launches

Permanent Identifiers for the Web

   Web applications that deal with [1]data on the web often need to
   specify and use URLs that are very stable. They utilize services
   such as [2] to ensure that applications using their URLs
   will always be re-directed to a working website. These “permanent
   URL” redirection services operate kind of like a [3]switchboard,
   connecting requests for information with the true location of the
   information on the Web. These switchboards can be reconfigured to
   point to a new location if the old location stops working.

How Does it Work?

   If the concept sounds a bit vague, perhaps an example will help.
   A web author could use the following link
   ( to refer to an important
   document. That link is hosted on a permanent identifier service.
   When a Web browser attempts to retrieve that link, it will be
   re-directed to the true location of the document on the Web.
   Currently, that location is If the
   location of the payswarm-v1.jsonld document changes at any point
   in the future, the only thing that needs to be updated is the
   re-direction entry on That is, all Web applications
   that use the URL will be
   transparently re-directed to the new location of the document and
   will continue to “Just Work™”. Launches

   Permanent identifiers on the Web are an important thing to
   support, but until today there was no organization that would
   back a service for the Web to keep these sorts of permanent
   identifiers operating over the course of multiple decades. A
   number of us saw that this is a real problem and so we launched
   [7], which is a permanent identifier service for the Web.
   The purpose of is to provide a secure, permanent [8]URL
   re-direction service for Web applications. This service will be
   run and operated by the [9]W3C Permanent Identifier Community

   Specifically, the following organizations that have pledged
   responsibility to ensure the operation of this service for the
   decades to come: [10]Digital Bazaar, [11]3 Round Stones,
   [12]OpenLink Software, [13]Applied Testing and Technology, and
   [14]Openspring. Many more organizations will join in time.

   These organizations are responsible for all administrative tasks
   associated with operating the service. The social contract
   between these organizations gives each of them full access to all
   information required to maintain and operate the website. The
   agreement is setup such that a number of these companies could
   fail, lose interest, or become unavailable for long periods of
   time without negatively affecting the operation of the site.

Why not

   While many web authors and data publishers currently use, there are a number of issues or concerns that we have
   about the website:
    1. The site was designed for the library community and was never
       intended to be used by the general Web.
    2. Requests for information or changes to the service frequently
       go unanswered.
    3. The site does not support HTTPS connections, which means it
       cannot be used to serve documents for security-sensitive
       industries such as medicine and finance. Requests to migrate
       the site to HTTPs have gone unanswered.
    4. There is no published backup or fail-over plan for the
    5. The site is run by a single organization, with a single
       part-time administrator, on a single machine. It suffers from
       multiple single points of failure. Features

   The launch of the website mitigates all of the issues
   outlined above with
    1. The site is specifically designed for web developers,
       authors, and data publishers on the general Web. It is not
       tailored for any specific community.
    2. Requests for information can be sent to a public mailing list
       that contains multiple administrators that are accountable
       for answering questions publicly. All administrators have
       been actively involved in world standards for many years and
       know how to run a service at this scale.
    3. The site supports HTTPS security, which means it can be used
       to securely serve data for industries such as medicine and
    4. Multiple organizations, with multiple administrators per
       organization have full access to administer all aspects of
       the site and recover it from any potential failure. All
       important site data is [15]in version control and is mirrored
       across the world on a regular basis.
    5. The site is run by a consortium of organizations that have
       each pledged to maintain the site for as long as possible. If
       a member organization fails, a new one will be found to
       replace the failing organization while the rest of the
       members ensure the smooth operation of the site.

   All identifiers associated with the website are intended
   to be around for as long as the Web is around. This means
   decades, if not centuries. If the final destination for popular
   identifiers used by this service fail in such a way as to be a
   major inconvenience or danger to the Web, the community will
   mirror the information for the popular identifier and setup a
   working redirect to restore service to the rest of the Web.

Adding a Permanent Identifier

   Anyone with a github account and knowledge of simple Apache
   redirect rules can add a permanent identifier to by
   performing the following steps:
    1. [16]Fork on Github.
    2. [17]Add a new redirect entry and commit your changes.
    3. [18]Submit a pull request for your changes.

   If you wish to engage the community in discussion about this
   service for your Web application, please send an e-mail to the
   [19] mailing list. If you are interested in
   helping to maintain this service for the Web, please join the
   [20]W3C Permanent Identifier Community Group.

   Note: The letters ‘w3′ in the domain name stand for
   “World Wide Web”. Other than hosting the software for the
   Permanent Identifier Community Group, the “World Wide Web
   Consortium” (W3C) is not involved in the support or management of in any way.



-- manu

Manu Sporny (skype: msporny, twitter: manusporny, G+: +Manu Sporny)
Founder/CEO - Digital Bazaar, Inc.
blog: Meritora - Web payments commercial launch

Received on Wednesday, 8 May 2013 17:14:29 UTC