"Living Documents" BOF

Co-Chairs: Peter Deutsch (peterd@cc.mcgill.ca) March, 1992 Alan Emtage (bajan@cc.mcgill.ca) ---------------------------------------- The Living Documents BOF met Tuesday, March <blat> 7pm-10pm. The preliminary agenda called for discussion on a wide range of topics related to the creation and implementation of Living Documents but in practice the majority of the discussion revolved around data representation issues for network-based information discovery and delivery systems. Much of the discussion centred upon the characteristics needed to implement a practical scheme for Universal Document Identifiers, contrasting these with a proposal for Unique Document Serial Numbers. UDIs have been proposed to allow multiple information systems to communicate location and access information. Initial proposals that had been circulated by Tim Berners-Lee, Brewster Kahle and others were discussed and these were compared to the information needed and currently provided by such systems as Prospero, WWW, WAIS and others. No firm conclusions were reached, but it was agreed that a mailing list (nir@cc.mcgill.ca) would be created to pursue this issue with a goal of producing a document standardizing UDIs for Internet use. Initially, all attendees of this BOF are to be placed on the list, and existance of the list is to be announced to the Internet community. Discussion concerning Unique Document Serial Numbers centred around the perceived need to identify and compare the _contents_ (in contrast to the location) of documents in an internet environment. Ideally, we would have a means for: a) Identifying the contents of a document and comparing it with other documents without copying and comparing them directly. b) Identifying derivative works and ancestral links between documents. c) Identifying documents that contain the same information despite representational changes that do not add or delete information contents. It was generally accepted that the first of these could probably be met with relatively straightforward signature schemes, but that the last two would be difficult or impossible using strictly syntactic means. At least one archive site administrator (Mark Baushe "mdb@nsd.3com.com") has subsequently implemented such an MD5-based signature scheme at his site (ftp.3com.com) for testing purposes. Details on accessing these signatures will be posted to the nir@cc.mcgill.ca list. The discussion continued across a range of topics, examining the other issues to be addressed in implementing Living Documents and network-based information systems. The following list was drawn up outlining some of the issues to be addressed in subsequent work: Univeral Document Identifiers: - design, documentation and deployment. Issues involved include the need to encode individual access methods and specific location information within a specified access method. An initial proposal for such a scheme had been circulated by Tim Berners-Lee prior to the meeting. A copy is available by anonymous FTP from info.cern.ch in the subdirectory "/pub/www/doc/udi1.[ps|txt]". Unique Document Serial Numbers: - design, documentation and deployment. Issues involved include identifying specific documents, version control and derivation information. Cataloguing Information: - Librarians already make use of far more cataloguing information than any of the experimental systems currently in use on the Internet. Work with those directly involved in library science working with extending MARC records, ISBN and ISSN numbers is called for. Discovery mechanisms: - There remains a large open problem in rapidly and efficiently discovering the existance and location of information in a large distributed computing environment. The proposed UDIs and UDSNs may enable such systems to be built but additional wrk is still needezVCd. There are problems both in locating individual service providers and specific pieces of information. Authentication and Access Control: - Security issues were not discussed in depth, but it was agreed that such issues would become more important as large-scale systems are developed and deployed. Editorial Control: - Again a topic touched upon only briefly, it was suggested by one participant that true Living Document systems would have to include some method of imposing editorial control. Mailing List: nir@cc.mcgill.ca nir-request@cc.mcgill.ca Mailing List Archive: anonymous FTP to: archives.cc.mcgill.ca subdirectory: "/pub/mailing-lists/nir-archive"