Given my interest in persistent URLs and reliable citation, it’s surprising that I only just today learned about WebCite. Here is the WebCite URL for a recent entry of mine:
This looks a lot like a TinyURL. If you’re on Twitter, you’re seeing a lot of those because Twitter automatically invokes the TinyURL service when you cite an URL.
But WebCite has a different, and very special, mission. It’s for scholarly and professional authors whose articles are themselves persistently linkable by way of Digital Object Identifiers. Increasingly those articles cite more ephemeral things, like blog entries. Using a WebCite bookmarklet, these authors can produce URLs that point to archived copies of web pages. Think Wayback Machine, but you can ask to have an item archived and be sure that it will be.
This is cool, and it’s interestingly different from the ad-supported TinyURL. In the case of WebCite, support is expected from a consortium of publishers whose content cites a mix of persistent academic works and ephemeral web stuff. Such content will be more valuable, the reasoning goes, if the ephemera can also be reliably cited.
As the author of ephemeral items, of course, I’d like to insert myself into that value chain. In this model the citing author and the publisher can see referrals to my item, but I can’t. That’s another reason why I need a lifebits system that’s independent of my blog publishing service, and of linking and persistence services, but can control my namespace and syndicate to and from those services.