DUBLIN, Ohio, USA, 11 July 2007 OCLC Online Computer Library Center, Inc. and Zepheira, LLC announced today that they will work together to rearchitect OCLC’s Persistent URL (PURL) service to more effectively support the management of a “Web of data.”
The software developed will be released under an Open Source Software license allowing PURLs and the PURL infrastructure to be used in various applications for public or proprietary use OCLC and Zepheira are collaborating to extend the open and inclusive community of PURL users.
The PURL service has been hosted by OCLC for 12 years and provides persistent, stable World Wide Web (WWW) addresses for the international library and education community, government, business, and non-profit organizations, and private citizens. PURLs are Web addresses or Uniform Resource Locators (URLs) that act as permanent identifiers in the face of a dynamic and changing Web infrastructure.
Instead of resolving directly to Web resources, PURLs provide a level of indirection that allows the underlying Web addresses of resources to change over time without negatively affecting systems that depend on them. This capability provides continuity of references to network resources that may migrate from machine to machine for business, social or technical reasons. PURLs grew out of the long involvement of OCLC’s Office of Research with the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) Uniform Resource Identifier working groups.
“Identifying and managing information resources have always been central to librarianship. As these resources have moved to the Web, the problem of names tied to potentially changing locations now affects everyone. OCLC’s experience with libraries and electronic resources helped us create the PURL infrastructure to serve libraries and other communities in addressing these complications. Because of our continuing commitment to this service, we feel it is time to update and extend it to support a larger user base and provide more resilient access to online information,” said Thom Hickey, Chief Scientist, OCLC.
Zepheira will redesign and build the new PURL service during 2007 to support greater flexibility, new features and the scalability to face an increased demand for PURLs. The new service, which upgrades the existing services at purl.org, will also be hosted by OCLC.
“Giving names to all of your documents and data allows you to easily reference and share information in a ‘Web of data.’ Changing organizational structure, direction, priorities and opportunities introduces a flux in data production and ownership so it is crucial to have a mechanism to keep these references current. The flexibility and permanence PURLs offer lower the bar to information reuse and stability across corporate and community boundaries accelerating information exchange in important fields such as the scientific, government and library communities,” said Eric Miller, President, Zepheira.
The new PURL software will also be updated to reflect the current understanding of Web architecture as defined by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C). This new software will provide the ability to permanently identify networked information resources, such as Web documents, as well as non-networked resources such as people, organizations, concepts and scientific data. This capability will represent an important step forward in the adoption of a machine-processable “Web of data” enabled by the Semantic Web.
“Persistence of identifiers is a key attribute for resources on the Web; W3C’s Technical Architecture Group place it at the core of the Architecture of the World Wide Web. PURLs have long been useful as a way of managing the reality of document migration; this update will support the identification of non-document resources important to the Semantic Web. As we continue to bring the capabilities of the Semantic Web to a wider Web community, it is crucial to be able to make consistent and stable references to non-networked resources. This update to the PURL infrastructure will help to make the Semantic Web a practical reality,” said Ralph Swick, Technology and Society Domain Lead, W3C.
OCLC and Zepheira are pleased to provide PURLs as a core component of the Internet infrastructure, to increase the flexibility and stability of Web-based applications and services. More information on the PURL service is available on the OCLC PURL Web site: www.purl.org.
Founded in 1967 and headquartered in Dublin, Ohio, OCLC Online Computer Library Center is a nonprofit library service and research organization that has provided computer-based cataloging, reference, resource sharing, eContent and preservation services to 57,000 libraries in 112 countries and territories. OCLC and its member libraries worldwide have created and maintain WorldCat, the world’s richest online resource for finding library materials. For more information, visit www.oclc.org.
Zepheira is a US-based professional services firm with expertise in semantic technologies and Enterprise Data Integration. Zepheira delivers solutions worldwide to integrate, navigate and manage data across personal, group and enterprise boundaries. Zepheira performs business analysis, data architecture, application development and implementation. Zepheira’s experts have a long history of leading Internet standards initiatives, and delivering solutions to industries including manufacturing, financial services, medical research and defense. The company is privately held and has offices in Virginia, Ohio and Colorado. For more information, visit: www.zepheira.com.
About the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C)
The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) is an international consortium where Member organizations, a full-time staff, and the public work together to develop Web standards. W3C primarily pursues its mission through the creation of Web standards and guidelines designed to ensure long-term growth for the Web. Over 400 organizations are members of the Consortium. W3C is jointly run by the MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (MIT CSAIL) in the USA, the European Research Consortium for Informatics and Mathematics (ERCIM) headquartered in France and Keio University in Japan, and has additional Offices worldwide. For more information, see: www.w3.org.