2.6 Interoperability: Trends and Future
Open access resources, open source software and open standards are changing the interoperability scenario and most importantly these three distinct but interrelated movements are flying forward in harmony and through coordination. Most of the interoperability standards are open standards developed by learned societies, library associations and voluntary groups. Some of these open standards are accepted all over the world and are considered as de facto global standards in the area of interoperability (such as OAI/PMH, OAI-ORE, DataCite, etc). In open access domain heterogeneity is the norm and therefore techniques for interoperability are extremely crucial in reconciling distributed and diverse open access sources. We already know different levels of interoperability along with the initiatives and standards associated with each level. There are seven levels of interoperability of which six levels are already established. The seventh level i.e. semantic interoperability is presently the most challenging and the most promising area of interoperability. Semantic interoperability ensures meaningful exchange of information consistently among machines and people. It helps end users in general and researchers in particular to retrieve relevant items from diverse sources in concerted way. A combination of Resource Description Framework (RDF), XML and Ontology are being implemented to express digital objects relationships in a machine understandable manner. The object relationships are important elements of semantic interoperability. It allows creating machine-generated services – i) to support global representation of knowledge objects; ii) to make cross-discipline connections; and iii) to combine related resources on-the -fly to develop new information services. SIMILE (Semantic Interoperability of Metadata and Information in unlike Environments) is another promising initiative in semantic interoperability. SIMILE (see simile.mit.edu) is an initiative of MIT and it aims to enhance interoperability among digital assets, metadata schemas, integrated vocabularies, domain ontology, metadata, and services. This initiative also aims to develop comprehensive open source tools that allow open access systems to access, manage, visualize and reuse digital assets. Another emerging area in the domain of interoperability is Linked Open Data (LOD). Libraries all over the world are exploring the possibilities to export own bibliographic data in RDF triples and also investigating paths to integrate external linked datasets into their collections. LOD provides great opportunities to create new levels of user services and at the same time inviting challenges in developing interoperability standards for integrating LOD into local service framework (presently most of the LOD integrations are based on content negotiation). With the rising importance of OA movement throughout the world, interoperability issues related with languages and scripts are major concern for OA service providers. Although Unicode (a 2 Byte character coding standard to cover all the scripts and languages of the world) standard is performing exceptionally well in scripts representation, lack of interoperability standards in transliteration and translation is creating problems for multilingual content integration.