So, you’re one of those people who would like an ID for themselves, or their website, or their scientific paper, or for everything, because you are just that awesome (or you’re the beast). And it’s so easy to get one: just pay up.
- URL? Pay up once a year.
- ISBN? Pay up.
- DOI? Become a valid publisher, then pay up. Oh, and obey.
- OpenID? Yeah, I was going to make fun of this again. But I must bite my tongue, because you probably already have one! So many wonderful IDs are actually OpenIDs, and you can log in to any OpenID-enabled website with them. And it’s FREE! In fact, the corporations that have OpenIDs, like Google, love it so much that they pay thousands of dollars a year, out of the goodness of their hearts, so you won’t have to! Oh wait…
- Google ID? I just remembered who paid for mine. Could be worse; I could be using my Facebook account. No, I shouldn’t be so mean; to be honest (as we’ll see), many corporations (and you) will pay money for a good solution if it’s cheaper than coming up with an ID system themselves.
- OpenURL? URLs are free. Link resolvers are as free or intuitive as other library products, often from the same vendors.
- Library of Congress linked data? See the gov in the URL? You should use it more, because you already paid for it.
I could stop there, but you know me; I never stop there. Why are all of these IDs costing money? It’s tempting to say “because they’re all evil,” but that’s wrong. It’s tempting to say, “because everything costs money,” which is true, but let’s go for a better one (like these from the reading list). Suppose I want to start my own standard, Damen Identity Protocol (DIP), where I am number 6 and no one is allowed to be number 1. Well, I have to:
- Have the ID work for enough people/docs/items so that it’s worth caring about DIP’s existence.
- Have a way to make sure no two people get the same DIP! It’d be nice if no one gets more than one DIP, but not essential.
- Have a method for someone to use a DIP once they know it. Type it in a browser? Search on Google? Yell it out the window?
- Make sure that using the method above gets the user something that has meaning (like some info on me for number 6). It’s be really horrid to use an ISBN and get nothing more than, “yep, that’s a book, all right!”
- And for persistence, make sure that, if a company or site or person is no longer available, that the ID doesn’t become useless.
- Oh, and it helps if the ID works well with local and other standard IDs for that object.
So, yeah, IDs need money, time and resources, either up front, or from the government, or from international agencies, or from supporting corporations. Next time: Libraries, IDs, and money.