Giddiness is uncommon in a professional capacity, but that is a little bit how the authors feel at the end of a laborious and frustrating struggle to achieve formal recognition by the IETF of the "info" URI scheme.
The effort stretched nearly two and a half years and many episodes of frustration, angst, and ideological argumentation on both sides.
The "info" URI scheme is predicated on the notion that the current Web identifier architecture is incomplete, and will benefit from a commonly recognized mechanism that:
- acknowledges that sometimes it is useful to decouple identity and resolution,
- supports a mechanism for bringing legacy identifiers into Web-space without directly maintaining Web server infrastructure, and
- provides for simple registration of identifier namespaces that will benefit from a common registration and declaration mechanism.
There are well-known and respectable advocates on both sides of this issue, but their opinions and ideologies will have almost no impact on the success or failure of this informational standard. Certainly approval by the IETF in itself, while important, will not assure success. The only thing that really counts is uptake. Will "info" URIs attract the uptake necessary to generate network effect benefits? Will it add enough value to become a useful and persistent part of Web infrastructure?
The answer is uncertain at this time, but there are reasons to be cautiously optimistic:
- "info" URIs are the basis for the OpenURL naming architecture
- The MPEG community is exploring the use of "info" for the identification of a wide variety of media assets that currently have non-URI identifiers
- A number of communities are experimenting with "info" for identifying 'conceptual' resources -- terms from metadata sets, controlled vocabularies, and classification systems
- SRW uses both HTTP: and "info" URIs to identify objects
- "info" is a candidate for identifying digital assets stored in repositories such as PRONOM.
There are sound reasons not to stray from the dominant linking idiom of the Web: HTTP URIs. Andy Powell's arguments to this effect illustrate why using HTTP URIs should be the starting assumption in the design of every Web identifier system. But there are also circumstances where the expectation of resolution (the implied promise of HTTP links) is specifically undesirable. Distinguishing between these cases, and building sustainable services that address these needs, motivated the development of the "info" URI standard. Wrapping that standard with policies and value-added business models is the next, and more difficult, challenge.
More information about the "info" URI scheme and the registry of "info" namespaces can be found at http://info-uri.info.