[uf-discuss] citation microformat encodings

Ross Singer ross.singer at library.gatech.edu
Mon Jan 30 06:57:01 PST 2006

Ok, I tried to do this, but I can't make a login to the wiki (keeps 
complaining that I am not using a valid user name).

So, uh... yeah.


Ryan King wrote:

> On Jan 25, 2006, at 9:02 AM, Ross Singer wrote:
> Ross,
> Could you add the description below (or a short version of it, or a  
> link to something similar) to http://microformats.org/wiki/citation- 
> formats? (under the OpenURL section)
> Also, while I'm at it, someone needs to move/merge this [http:// 
> microformats.org/wiki/citation-brainstorming#OpenURL] and this  
> [http://microformats.org/wiki/citation-brainstorming#MARC_.2F_MODS_. 
> 2F_Dublin_Core] into http://microformats.org/wiki/citation-formats.
> Thanks,
> ryan
>> One of the obstacles in explaining OpenURL is the discongruity  
>> between "the spec" and "the implementation".  While, yes, what you  
>> see in practice is a url with the metadata encoded as arguments in  
>> the query string, this is merely a representation of the  
>> "ContextObject" intended to be sent to a link resolver to permit  
>> services based on the contextobject.
>> Let's back up, shall we?
>> An OpenURL consists of two independent parts:  the ContextObject  (or 
>> the bibliographic metadata surrounding a citation) and the  location 
>> of resolver to parse the metadata and present contextual  services 
>> based on said metadata.  The (very real) problem is that  the term 
>> "OpenURL" is also used as a catch-all for all of the  independent 
>> parts and how they work.  This is mainly because it's a  catchier 
>> term than "Z39.88", which is the NISO standard all this is  based upon.
>> So, when Tantek pointed out that this is very non-human readable  url 
>> string, that is a *particular representation* of the OpenURL  
>> ContextObject (which is referred to as "San Antonio Profile 1" --  
>> more commonly SAP1 -- and is represented in Key Encoded Values --  
>> KEVs).  This "representation" is independent of the ContextObject  
>> (from here on known as CO) itself and is only intended to permit  the 
>> CO to be transmitted via an HTTP GET request (more on this in a  bit).
>> There is also SAP2, which is an XML representation of the CO (see:   
>> http://alcme.oclc.org/openurl/servlet/OAIHandler? 
>> verb=GetRecord&metadataPrefix=oai_dc&identifier=info:ofi/ 
>> fmt:xml:xsd:ctx and the "Implementation Guidelines" link from that  
>> page for more information) and is a much more human readable  
>> format.  This still (obviously) falls outside the scope of  
>> microformats, but makes the point that encoding has nothing to do  
>> with the CO itself.  They are just agreed upon means of conveying  
>> the CO to enable machines act upon them consistently.
>> The ContextObject could be conveyed just as easily in XHTML using  
>> attributes, as long as the terms follow the vocabulary defined in  
>> the OpenURL framework.  The important thing to focus on here is the  
>> ContextObject -- the address of the link resolver /is/ institution- 
>> specific and should be handled by a user's (or machine's)  activating 
>> agent.
>> However, the link resolver is still a very important component to  
>> this whole process.  Getting users "appropriate copy" is a very  real 
>> (and very difficult) problem that libraries are trying to  solve.  
>> Link resolvers are a pretty efficient means of overcoming  this 
>> hurdle, so it would make sense to mark up bibiographic  citations in 
>> a way that link resolvers can easily parse.
>> I hope this clears up a little bit of the confusion.
>> -Ross.

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