the iCite net > news / blog > a permalink

news and thoughts on and around the development of the iCite net
by Jay Fienberg

Permalinks in the iCite net

posted: Aug 8, 2003 2:52:14 PM

Shelley Power's has posted Weblog Links: Part 1 — The Impermanence of Permalinks on her Weblogging for Poets site, which Don Park recommended on his blog with the disclaimer:

This well written post was not what I needed to read this morning, but I recommend it nonetheless. Mornings are for solutions, not problems.

So, I imagine what I am building with the iCite net to be one solution for permalinks, and wanted to outline the salient features.

In the iCite net, there is a DNS-like service called iCNS that lets any content have a unique "name", independent of domain name and IP address. So, this means, for example, that a web page can have an iCNS name that stays the same, even if the domain name or URL change.

iCNS works with iCite Containers (from which iCites are served) to resolve these names down to the page fragment level (i.e., the part of a URL after a #). So, each page fragment can have a unique identifier (note: this is comparable with PurpleNumbers, see my post Purple hypertext all through my brain for more info).

So, these features make several useful things possible:

Within iCites, each link is internally stored with the iCNS identifier. If the URL for the page linked to changes, all iCites that link to that page are automatically informed of the URL change and can update their links. This happens in a peer-to-peer manner via the iCite Containers.

While this won't be a default feature of iCite Containers, it will be straightforward to create RSS-type feeds, email subscriptions and/or IM messaging for things like changes in URLs. So, for example, if you are really serious about keeping a link up-to-date, an iCite Container that is tracking the page you're linked to could inform you if that page's URL changes and what it changes to.

iCite Containers also support request forwarding. In particular, when an iCite moves from one URL to another, the iCite Container at the old URL (obviously, assuming it is still online) keeps track of the current URL of the iCite and can forward requests to the new location.

For regular website links, both iCite Containers and iCNS servers can lookup old URLs and forward to new ones. It also would be straightforward to create a central search engine for old addresses registered in iCNS and iCite Containers that returns new addresses.

So, this area of features for the iCite net are based on the idea that web pages are people too and need to be good and tell their friends and family their new address when they move. And, for various reasons, you can't always update everyone directly or in a timely fashion, so you need to leave some forwarding instructions at your old address. But, when you can, update directly.

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