Well, here's the trick about handles, as I understand it. A handle, for
instance, a DOI, is "10.1074/jbc.M004545200".
While, for DOI handles, normally we resolve that using dx.doi.org, at
http://dx.doi.org/10.1074/jbc.M004545200, that is not actually a requirement
of the handle system. You can resolve it through any handle server, over
HTTP or otherwise. Even if it's still over HTTP, it doesn't have to be at
dx.doi.org, it can be via any handle resolver.
For instance, check this out, it works:
Cause the DOI is really just a subset of Handles, any resolver participating
in the handle network can resolve em. In Eric's hypothetical use case, that
could be a local enterprise handle resolver of some kind. (Although I'm not
totally sure that would keep your usage data private; the documentation I've
seen compares the handle network to DNS, it's a distributed system, I'm not
sure in what cases handle resolution requests are sent 'upstream' by the
handle resolver, and if actual individual lookups are revealed by that or
not. But in any case, when Ross suggests -- "Presumably dx.hellman.net would
need to harvest its metadata from somewhere, which seems like it would leave
a footprint. It also needs some mechanism to stay in sync with the master
index." -- my reading this suggests this is _built into_ the handle
protocol, it's part of handle from the very start (again, the DNS analogy,
with the emphasis on the distributed resolution aspect), you don't need to
invent it yourself. The details of exactly how it works, I don't know enough
to say. )
Now, I'm somewhat new to this stuff too, I don't completely understand how
it works. Apparently hdl.handle.net can <strike>handle</strike> deal with
any handle globally, while presumably dx.doi.org can only deal with the
subset of handles that are also DOIs. And apparently you can have a handle
resolver that works over something other than HTTP too. (Although Ross
argues, why would you want to? And I'm inclined to agree).
But appears that the handle system is quite a bit more fleshed out than a
simple purl server, it's a distributed protocol-independent network. The
protocol-independent part may or may not be useful, but it certainly seems
like it could be, it doens't hurt to provide for it in advance. The
distributed part seems pretty cool to me.
So if it's no harder to set up, maintain, and use a handle server than a
Purl server (this is a big 'if', I'm not sure if that's the case), and
handle can do everything purl can do and quite a bit more (I'm pretty sure
that is the case)... why NOT use handle instead of purl? It seems like
handle is a more fleshed out, robust, full-featured thing than purl.
Presumably dx.hellman.net would need to
harvest its metadata from somewhere, which seems like it would leave a
footprint. It also needs some mechanism to stay in sync with the
master index. Your non-resolution service also seems to be looking
these things up in realtime. Would a RESTful or SOAP API (*shudder*)
not accomplish the same goal?
Really, though, the binding argument here is less the issue here than
if you believe http URIs are valid identifiers or not since there's no
reason a URI couldn't be dereferenced via other bindings, either.