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Dr. Bunsen's URI and knowledge sharing

From: M. Scott Marshall <marshall@science.uva.nl>
Date: Fri, 03 Jul 2009 19:09:38 +0200
Message-ID: <4A4E3B52.40408@science.uva.nl>
To: shared-names@googlegroups.com
CC: Jonathan Rees <jar@creativecommons.org>, Tim Clark <tim_clark@harvard.edu>, W3C HCLSIG hcls <public-semweb-lifesci@w3.org>
Jonathan Rees wrote:
 > Thanks to Kaitlin Thaney for the following.
 > http://www.flickr.com/photos/kaythaney/3592177513/

Jonathan's post reminds me of an issue that is important to knowledge 
sharing and has been on my mind lately: Scientists are often just as 
concerned about *who* said something as they are about *what* was said. 
The need to unequivocally identify a person is a requirement that comes 
about when we share knowledge because we need to know who has provided 
an assertion, and often, under what circumstances (i.e. with what 
evidence, measurements, etc.). Such 'knowledge provenance' is becoming 
increasingly important because systems are being developed that would 
make use of both manually curated facts and those computationally 
generated or 'mined'. This has been coming up in many different groups 
and events, including the HCLS Scientific Discourse and BioRDF task 
forces, myExperiment, HypER http://hyp-er.wik.is/ , and likely Sage[1]. 
Apparently, this topic also came up at the International Repositories 
Infrastructure Workshop where Jonathan was present[0].

The similarity between the requirements for shared names, in general, 
and 'people identifiers', in particular, is readily apparent: we would 
like unambiguous and permanent URI's to be provided from an 
authoritative and neutral source. I don't know about you but if Shared 
Names offered people identifiers, it would be my preferred approach. 
However, Shared Names has limited the scope to GO dbx records for the 

Are there alternatives to the DIY do-it-yourself approach for those who 
need people identifiers *today*? The only thing that I can think of is 
WikiPeople[2] (which could create an awkward situation if someone else 
with the name Michael Scott Marshall creates a page, who wants to be M. 
Scott Marshall 2?). Oh wait, there's more at a Crossref blog [3], 
although I don't think that sharing hypothetical information with other 
scientists shouldn't require you to have an 'author number'.

One thing that I like about WikiPeople is that it puts identity in the 
hands of the owners of the identity. Unfortunately, I think that a code 
is required instead of a name to truly scale. Also, I suppose that the 
most surefire way to ensure that an identity system doesn't get messy is 
to require authentication e.g. a certificate from a Certificate 
Authority that has high requirements for authentication such as 
presenting a passport. Such levels of authentication are currently 
required for European and Dutch grid certificates (finally, a use for 
such seemingly exaggerated grid-burocracy!).



M. Scott Marshall  (still have to get a PURL ;) )
Received on Friday, 3 July 2009 17:10:04 UTC

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