A conversation with Tony Hammond about digital object identifiers

Tony Hammond works with the new technology team at Nature Publishing Group. His company publishes a flock of scientific journals in print and online including, most prominently, Nature. It also operates Connotea, a social bookmarking service for scientists. In this week’s podcast we talk about digital object identifiers which are, in effect, super-URLs designed to survive commercial churn and to work reliably for hundreds of years.

Many of us are becoming publishers nowadays, and we’d like to imagine that all our stuff could enjoy that level of consistency and durability. Few of us are prepared to make the necessary investment, but it’s interesting to hear from someone who has.

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33 thoughts on “A conversation with Tony Hammond about digital object identifiers

  1. Wow. Thanks for that, David. Do you think the capabilities of that class of software will find their way into blogging infrastructure anytime soon?

  2. A weblog (or web pages in general) are simply a collection text, link, pictures. This is no different than any other document / object / entity that Dspace would handle. It’d simply be another type of CMS IMHO. I think this would be a really good project to implement for an undergrad thesis, or perhaps as part of a master’s thesis.

    However as neat as all this is, I don’t think it would be implemented soon: or at least not in mainstream software. Few people will care whether their MySpace page survives over the aeons (and many people don’t want their kids to know what they did twenty years in the past).

  3. Beyond the personal desire to preserve one’s digital history…blogs are driving, and reflecting, a new chapter in human history.

    The preserved blogosphere is likely to be a valuable rosetta stone for future archeologists and anthropologists…human, post-human, and…well, who knows?

  4. Jon, interestingly, your robots.txt prevents all crawlers accessing the whole of your blog, so it’s highly unlikely to be a part of any publicly accessible persistent blogosphere. The main capture mechanism for such a facility to be realised is a web archiving crawler, examples are Internet Archive and Hanzoweb – both of which respect robots. It’s a pity. Please consider revising this policy, I’m sure your blog will be of value to future readers, future historians, researchers and the like.

  5. “robots.txt prevents all crawlers”

    Whoa, thanks for noticing that! I hadn’t even occurred to me that the wordpress.com default would be to block rather than allow crawlers. I’ve changed that — in Options -> Privacy in case anyone’s in the same boat. I’d have thought the change would be immediate but it appears not to have taken effect yet. I’ll keep an eye on it.

    Thanks so much for noticing!

    Ironically this is a perfect illustration of the problem identified here:


    Namely, the difficulty of visualizing one’s published surface area!

  6. Jon,

    Given the weight of comments you must deal with, I am less than hopeful that you’ll see this – and yet I surge on…I just post a rather long interview with Stephen Downes on my site (http://blogoehlert.typepad.com/eclippings/2007/02/a_little_while_.html)concerning the issue of DOIs, HANDLEs and so on. I would LOVE it if you had a chance to stop by and see the points that Stephen raises – I work in the e-learning field and this topic is very much front and center in my world.

    the Eternal Optimist
    Mark Oehlert

  7. “I would LOVE it if you had a chance to stop by and see the points that Stephen raises”

    I’ve done so. Thanks for posting that excellent exchange. I don’t think I’m yet qualified to say much about it, though. As I talk to various people — Tony Hammond, Dan Chudnov, hopefully also Stephen Downes and others over time — the best I can do is try to feel out rough contours of the elephant I am poking and prodding. And this cluster of issues makes for one really big elephant!

    My own parochial view of all this is colored by my (apparently offbeat) interest in our newfound ability to narrate our lives and our work online, and how that will create demand for a class of services that in the past only institutions would want and could pay for. The democratization of such services is mostly orthogonal to DRM, I think, because the purposes of such narration are best served when it is freely (and reliably and durably) accessible.

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