A Cutting-Edge Identifier for Publishing
While a Web site URL (Uniform Resource Locator, such as www.Publishers.org) is the address of an electronic resource, it becomes obsolete when the material is moved from a specific Internet location.
The Digital Object Identifier, or "DOI", also lets publishers link to multiple online resources. But unlike a URL, the DOI automatically maintains reliable links, thanks to a continuously updated database dubbed "the Handle System".
The Handle System was created by Robert Kahn (who also happens to be one of the Internet's inventors) and the Corporation for National Research Initiatives (CNRI), in Reston, Va. The Handle System assigns and resolves persistent identifiers, otherwise known as "handles", for digital objects and other Internet resources.
The DOI implementation of the Handle System involves assigning a unique number (or "identifier") to unique content, such as an e-book, e-magazine, document, digital photograph, PDF, or other online resource.
That DOI is stored in online databases that associate the object with links and other information provided by the DOI registrant, usually the publisher. These links can include the current Web site address for the content object, which the registrant can easily update if the content's online location changes.
The DOI system is administered by the International DOI Foundation (IDF), Oxford, U.K., founded in 1998 by the Association of American Publishers, the International Publishers Association, and the International Association of Scientific Technical and Medical Publishers.
All three founding organizations worked previously with CNRI to develop the DOI implementation of the Handle System. IDF's activities include promoting the DOI internationally, and authorizing registration agencies to issue DOIs to content owners. There are presently seven authorized registration agencies worldwide.
III THE DOI IN ACTION
Let's say Publisher A operates a retail Web site that features 100 e-books. The publisher assigns one DOI to each e-book. Publisher B subsequently acquires all of Publisher A's assets, and moves all of Publisher A's Web site pages to its own servers.