Ed Parsons and Chris Holmes were at the GSDI-10 conference and have each written posts about "GeoWebs" and "Global Spatial Data Infrastructures" that touch one of my favorite topics: architecture. Ed says that it is time for grand data sharing designs to yield to an evolutionary approach:
So we need to move away from the "Grand Design" approach and build SDI's organically and simply, perhaps making use of the new Global infrastructures that companies like Google and Microsoft have made available to bootstrap the technology, and deliver faster benefits and to make the case for more in depth infrastructures at a later date.
It's great that the GSDI community is hearing this. Yes, Ed is pitching Google's services as he pitches the Web, but I think it's still an honest argument for the Web. The Web works: not only for Google, but for thousands of other business, governmental, and non-profit enterprises, and for billions of users.
I only need to make one little correction or addendum to these paragraphs in Ed's post:
The Grand Design approach does introduce an additional issue which is technology related, many of the current SDI projects are planned to deliver over decades, with technological developments continuing to move rapidly, it is difficult to plan to implement using a technology which will be obsolete years before the infrastructure goes live.., as it is today the best available standards as drafted by OGC are moving from basic http interfaces to the more web services friendly SOAP based interfaces, while the leading edge is looking to REST based interfaces.
Mostly right. When we say "REST", we mean protocols based on the HTTP application protocol, and the architecture that makes the Web a success. REST is not a radical prescription at all. When you consider that REST won the distributed systems architecture war, to take the losing approach forward seems much more radical.
Chris Holmes's presentation is focused on social change, top-down yielding to bottom-up, but when he writes (on slide 19) that GSDI should
build on what's out there, on successful architectures of participation.
there are to me clear technical implications: The Web has an "architecture of participation", and its architectural style is named Representational State Transfer, or REST. I don't fault Chris at all for not directly pointing out that the OGC architecture is misaligned with the architecture of the Web: it's a distraction from his social message and possibly demoralizing to GIS data managers. But I don't think you can for very long dodge the issue that a "GeoWeb" really demands a RESTful Web-like architecture, and something like HTML. Hypertext, not GetCapabilities() and GetData().