Parallels

Andy Powell's presentation on Web 2.0 and repositories is just as relevant a read for GIS designers as it is for archivists. These communities have much in common, including:

  • A mission to archive and curate comprehensive, unique datasets.
  • Information architectures, formats, and protocols that pre-date the Web.
  • Entrenched agendas that overshadow architectural concerns.

In the institutional repository space, open access voices don't want their agenda derailed by debate about the re-architecture of the systems to be opened. Likewise in the open source GIS, or FOSS4G, space: businesses that are barely succeeding in winning government and industry clients over to open source solutions based on "OpenGIS" standards aren't keen on having these standards undermined for any reason.

Powell's assessment is that the way forward for repositories is either simpler (Atom, for example) or more complex (RDF, which I'm told is to the OGC what the XML mapfile is to the MapServer community) than the current approach. Or both. I think this is true for geospatial as well.