The Internet is too rich. Even powerful and sophisticated search engines, such as Google, return a lot of trash, dead ends, and Error 404's in response to most well-defined query, Boolean operators and all. Directories created by human editors - such as Yahoo! or Open Directory Project - are often overwhelmed by amount of material out there. Like legendary blob, Internet is clearly out of classificatory control. Some web sites - like Suite101 - have introduced old and tried Dewey subject classification system successfully used in non-virtual libraries for more than a century. Books - both print and electronic - (actually, their publishers) get assigned an ISBN (International Standard Book Number) by national agencies. Periodical publications (magazines, newsletters, bulletins) sport an ISSN (International Serial Standard Number). National libraries dole out CIP's (Cataloguing in Publication numbers), which help lesser outfits to catalogue book upon arrival. But emergence of new book formats, independent publishing, and self publishing has strained this already creaking system to its limits. In short: whole thing is fast developing into an awful mess.
Resolution is one solution.
Resolution is linking of identifiers to content. An identifier can be a word, or a phrase. RealNames implemented this approach and its proprietary software is now incorporated in most browsers. The user types a word, brand name, phrase, or code, and gets re-directed to a web site with appropriate content. The only snag: RealNames identifiers are for sale. Thus, its identifiers are not guaranteed to lead to best, only, or relevant resource. Similar systems are available in many languages. Nexet, for example, provides such a resolution service in Hebrew.
The Association of American Publishers (APA) has an Enabling Technologies Committee. Fittingly, at Frankfurt Book Fair of 1997, it announced DOI (Digital Object Identifier) initiative. An International DOI Foundation (IDF) was set up and invited all publishers - American and non-American alike - to apply for a unique DOI prefix. DOI is actually a private case of a larger system of "handles" developed by CNRI (Corporation for National Research Initiatives). Their "Handle Resolver" is a browser plug-in software, which re-directs their handles to URL's or other pieces of data, or content. Without Resolver, typing in handle simply directs user to a few proxy servers, which "understand" handle protocols.
The interesting (and new) feature of system is its ability to resolve to MULTIPLE locations (URL's, or data, or content). The same identifier can resolve to a Universe of inter-related information (effectively, to a mini-library). The content thus resolved need not be limited to text. Multiple resolution works with audio, images, and even video.
The IDF's press release is worth some extensive quoting:
"Imagine you're manager of an Internet company reading a story online in "Wall Street Journal" written by Stacey E. Bressler, a co-author of Communities of Commerce, and at end of story there is a link to purchase options for book.