A recent announcement from NISO (US National Information Standards Organization) describes the formation a committee to develop the OpenURL Standard. The OpenURL is based on the notion that "links should lead a user to appropriate resources: an 'institutional service component' (ISC) describes the context of the user. The OpenURL is designed as a protocol for interoperability between an information resource and a service component that offers localized services in an open linking environment. It is in effect an actionable URL that transports metadata or keys to access metadata for the object for which the OpenURL is provided; the target of the OpenURL is the user's institutional service component (ISC). The remainder of the OpenURL transports the object's metadata. The OpenURL standard may impact the level of basic Internet infrastructure, where resolution of identifiers in a context-sensitive manner is required. A syntax specification of the OpenURL for bibliographic metadata provides examples: a 'LOCAL-IDENTIFIER-ZONE' might be: pid=<author>Smith, Paul ; Klein, Calvin</author>&<yr>98</yr>; the OpenURL encoded format used with HTTP GET would escape the markup as necessary in accordance with URI specifications.
From the announcement:
The National Information Standards Organization (NISO) has announced the formation of a committee to develop the OpenURL Standard. This standard will allow information seekers to be connected to the appropriate copy of any chosen resource by passing along bibliographic or descriptive information about the resource in the form of metadata and taking into account the user's organizational context or starting point. A variety of appropriate related resources may also be made available using OpenURL syntax. This new standard will let information providers connect their customers to services and products more cleanly and directly.
The committee is charged to build a syntax for web-transportable packages of metadata and/or identifiers about an information object. This information is at the core of context-sensitive or open link technology. By standardizing the syntax, this work will enable the development of innovative user-specific services in the scholarly communications industry and other information fields. For example, product descriptions could be linked to technical support services targeted to specific user categories. The OpenURL standard may impact the level of basic Internet infrastructure, where resolution of identifiers in a context-sensitive manner is required. The Committee's starting point will be the OpenURL syntax...