ORE! Unh! Huh! What is it good for?

February 4, 2008

Background: An alpha version of the OAI-ORE specifications was released in December, and has prompted less public discussion than I’d hoped for, so I’m going to post some of the issues as I perceive them in an attempt to promote awareness. I’ll inevitably fail to be comprehensive, so I won’t try – I’ll stick to the ones that interest me.

ORE is a way of describing aggregations of web resources; complex objects in digital library / repository parlance. It’s based on semantic web principles and technology and is RESTful (unlike PMH, but that’s a story for another day), which is a Good Thing.

So what is it good for: –

i) Provides an alternative to content packaging. Content packaging standards and security are two of the biggest hurdles to repository interop. ORE could provide a route around one of them, and bring the repository world closer to the web in doing so.

ii) Takes forward named graphs for defining boundaries on the semantic web. The semantic web can be visualized as a big network of statements about things, that lacks a way of defining a chunk of the network (in order to make statements about it…). You perhaps have to be a bit of a semantic web geek to appreciate the importance of this at first flush.

The alpha of the standard itself stood out for a couple of things too. It seemed to have been written with a mindset of “what is the least we can specify whilst being useful?”. It’s also a well rounded spec; there are constraints to make it simple, but they’re not out of balance with the amount of specification and support provided.

ORE is likely to be important to the repository community; there is a lot of momentum behind it (on which more later), and it provides a piece of perviously-missing infrastructure. So it might well be worth your while to read the spec, join the discussion group and maybe even read some of the following posts…

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One Response to “ORE! Unh! Huh! What is it good for?”


  1. […] are enthusiastic partners in the OREChem project (Chemistry Repositories, and from Jim Downing ORE! Unh! Huh! What is it good for?). This uses named (RDF) graphs to describe local collections (”Aggregates”) of URIs. The […]


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