URN fodder...

Pierre Landau (pierre@indirect.com)
Mon, 27 Mar 1995 16:15:56 -0700

Date: Mon, 27 Mar 1995 16:15:56 -0700
Message-Id: <199503272315.QAA29612@bud.indirect.com>
To: uri@bunyip.com
From: pierre@indirect.com (Pierre Landau)
Subject: URN fodder...

I've seen a lot of discussion recently on various URN schemes, but am still 
puzzled as to some of the underlying assumptions of these models.

Suppose that someuser@somemachine.someuniversity decides to "publish" a 
document, be it an HTML one or otherwise.  As things exist now, the user 
tells friends about it, or puts a pointer on some HTML page to it.  Ideally, 
the user would register the document, obtain a URN, and distribute the URN; 
other copies of the document would share the URN and therefore the access load.

1) Unless some encapsulation is used, how is a document to be tagged with 
its URN? Suppose I copy  a public-domain JPEG image of Jupiter from a server 
which is very slow. I have its original URL, but not necessarily its URN, so 
although by my having copied it I might make it available to others on the 
net, they will not be able to identify it as the same object.

2) URN search ability is vital.  Suppose I'm writing a paper, and want to 
refer to other papers.  I need to be able to find the appropriate URNs for 
those papers, even though I may know only author and title, but perhaps not 
the journal name.  All I've seen so far in the discussions is "some whois++ 
will take care of it" which just begs the question of who will maintain the 
database. Web crawlers such as WWWW and Lycos are only marginally useful in 
this regard because the Web is expanding too fast and their search engines 
are still not well enough developed. The "handles" system 
(http://www.cnri.reston.va.us/home/cstr/handle-intro.html) addresses this by 
allowing a flat namespace and distributing the load among several servers, 
at the cost of requiring all updates to be centralized.

3) Using the hierarchical DNS scheme for registering publishers works well 
with departments at universities, but perhaps less well with a publisher like
joe@orion.tucson.az.us.   Perhaps the Library of Congress or a similar 
entity is a more appropriate "authority" to register publishers with.