Focus on the resources

Sigfrid Lundberg's Stuff 2010-05-24

Bookmark and Share

I've posted entries here under the heading Readings on Digital Objects. This text will, I hope, not be the last posting in that series, but you should not expect many more in the near future.

Scholars as well as the general public consume digital objects en mass. The range of digital genres on the menu is broad, covering everything between Worlds of Warcraft and Shakespeare's Sonnets. An object delivered on the net via a library (in the broadest sense of that word) is a Digital Library Object. Those who have followed this series have realized that the research on what kind of data such an object should contain has been going on for more than a decade and possibly almost two.

From a very early stage, the vision within the library communities has been to move the library to the Internet and particularly to the Web. The trend to establish a presence where the users are has been hysterical at times with libraries spending staff manpower on engagement in Second Life and Facebook.

Towards a resource centric view

Otherwise, the tactic has been the creation of repositories. We do now see now a shift from the repository as the gravitational center towards the objects, the resources, themselves. There should be no need to go to the digital library and search in what is basically hidden web. Rather the content should be on the Worldwide Web and available in the mainstream search engines.

Lagoze et al. (2008) use this shift of emphasis as justification for proposal of the new standard OAI-ORE. They formulate the new trend in a very clear way:

It [the OAI-ORE standard] also reflects a recognition of the position of digital libraries vis-à-vis the Web that sometimes seem to co-exist in a curiously parallel conceptual and architectural space.

We exist in a world where information is synonymous not with 'library' but with the Web and the applications that are rooted in it. In this world, the Web Architecture is the lingua franca for information interoperability, and applications such as most digital libraries must exist within the capabilities and constraints of that Web Architecture.

Implementors of digital library objects have often successfully put the library collections on the web. They are also successfully disseminating simple bibliographical metadata (for example using OAI). Libraries have, however, been less successful as regards putting the objects on the Web (Lagoze, op. cit.)


Another point of failure is that we have yet been incapable of producing interoperable objects. Or, as McDonough (2008) puts it:

Hence XML's similarity to a rope. Like a rope, it is extraordinarily flexible; unfortunately, just as with rope, that flexibility makes it all too easy to hang yourself.

Maly and Nelson (1999) make distinctions between Dumb and Smart Objects and Dumb and Smart Archives, leading to four architectures DODA, SODA, DOSA and SOSA. Ever since, object oriented developers have concentrated on the SODA model (Smart Objects in a Dumb archive. Fedora is intended as an implementation of that.

I think it is time to give attention to the DODA architecture. Then the all inferencing and intelligence is deferred to an independent indexing agent which behaves more or less like an Internet search engine through clever indexing and automatic text analysis.


Lagoze, Carl, Herbert Van de Sompel, Michael L. Nelson, Simeon Warner, Robert Sanderson and Pete Johnston, 2008. Object Re-Use & Exchange: A Resource-Centric Approach. Arxiv preprint.

Maly, Kurt and Michael L. Nelson, 1999. Smart Objects, Dumb Archives — A User-Centric, Layered Digital Library Framework. D-Lib Magazine. Vol. 5(3).

McDonough, Jerome, 2008. “Structural Metadata and the Social Limitation of Interoperability: A Sociotechnical View of XML and Digital Library Standards Development.” Presented at Balisage: The Markup Conference 2008, Montréal, Canada, August 12 - 15, 2008. In Proceedings of Balisage: The Markup Conference 2008. Balisage Series on Markup Technologies, vol. 1 (2008). doi:10.4242/BalisageVol1.McDonough01.


Subscribe to Stuff from Sigfrid LundbergSubscribe to my stuff

stuff by category || year


My name is Sigfrid Lundberg. The stuff I publish here may, or may not, be of interest for anyone else.

On this site there is material on photography, music, literature and other stuff I enjoy in life. However, most of it is related to my profession as an Internet programmer and software developer within the area of digital libraries. I have been that at the Royal Danish Library, Copenhagen (Denmark) and, before that, Lund university library (Sweden).

The content here does not reflect the views of my employers. They are now all past employers, since I retired 1 May 2023.

Creative Commons License
This entry (Focus on the resources) within Sigfrid Lundberg's Stuff, by Sigfrid Lundberg is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.