Sunday, February 8, 2009

Why isn't there DOI for the popular media?

For a course I'm taking, I periodically have trouble accessing journal articles online (e.g. today there was a problem getting a 2004 article from Library Quarterly). However, most of the time everything works smoothly. I can simply click on a link in my course syllabus and automatically be sent to a PDF of the article.

This automatic system works since most academic articles are assigned a unique identifier called a DOI, or Digital Object Identifier. Using a DOI for articles saves the time of the reader, one of Ranganathan's five laws of librarianship.

Well, I'm irritated that this practice isn't used in popular media. I'll illustrate the problem using comedy. Lots of Canadians enjoy The Colbert Report and The Daily Show, and enjoy discussing said programs with each other. However, not all Canadians enjoy these programs by watching broadcasts on TV. Some see clips referred to in blogs... However, woe be to you if you imagine that you can simply play one of these clips. For if you do, you will encounter the following result:

If DOI was used properly, an automatic link to the appropriate content should be found and the user shouldn't have to think about any of these technical questions. The above example comes from a blogpost by author Neil Gaiman.

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