I am just sitting at a library developer meeting at OCLC|PICA in Leiden to get to know more about OCLC Service Grid, WorldCat Grid, or whatever the new service-oriented product portfolio of OCLC will be called. As Roy Tennant pointed out, our meeting is “completely bloggable” so here we are – a dozen of European kind-of system librarians.
The “Grid Services” that OCLC is going to provide is based on the “OCLC Services Architecture” (OSA), a framework by which network services are built – I am fundamentally sceptical on additional frameworks, but let’s have a look.
The basic idea about services is to provide a set of small methods for a specific purpose that can be accessed via HTTP. People can then use this services and build and share unexpected application with them – a principle that is called Mashups.
The OCLC Grid portfolio will have four basic pillars:
network services: search services, metadata extraction, identity management, payment services, social services (voting, commenting, tagging…) etc.
registries and data resources: bibliographic registries, knowledge bases, registries of institutions etc. (see WorldCat registries)
reusable components: a toolbox of programming components (clients, samples, source code libraries etc.)
community: a developer network, involvement in open source developement etc.
Soon after social services were mentioned, at heavy discussion on reviews, and commenting started – I find the questions raised with user generated content are less technical but more social. Paul stressed that users are less and less interested in metadata but directly want the content of an information object (book, article, book chapter etc.). The community aspect is still somehow vague to me, we had some discussion about it too. Service oriented architecture also implies a different way of software engineering, which can partly be described by the “perpetual beta” principle. I am very exited about this change and how it will be practised at OCLC|PICA. Luckily I don’t have to think about the business model and legal part which is not trivial: everyone wants to use services for free, but services need work to get established and maintained, so how do we best distribute the costs among libraries?
That’s all for the introduction, we will get into more concrete services later.
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