Alexander Johannesen wrote:
Sure. My own two Bob’s worth is that it is too little to late, and
also that LCSH in all its glory itself is a complicated scheme that it
would take mostly librarians to love and use, and hence others out
there couldn’t care too much about it. (You spoke of the NRK use case
of which I have insider information that suggests that LCSH isn’t
suitable, mostly by virtue of being poorly and too slowly maintained
as a Norwegian subset).
I think this is the main question, and I think it should posed not in *theoretical* terms but in *practical* terms. Perhaps some of these linked data projects may work more or less in ten years or so and perhaps not. While I did not understand the limitations inherent in RDF and SKOS, I do understand very clearly the idea of linked data and how powerful it could become someday. I’ve written about it myself. But, we are working in very *practical times* today and it seems these solutions will take several years to work out (at least), longer to actually implement, and all this in a time of decreasing budgets and a growing skepticism from the public (who provides our funding) about the usefulness of library records in general. I have noticed that measuring time on the web is different and seems to me rather similar to the so-called “dog years” where one human year equals 7 years for a dog (the last I read anyway). I don’t know what the relationship is with “library time” and “world wide web time,” but it must be somewhat similar. For example, our undergraduates today cannot imagine a world without Google (which they much prefer to our tools) and they find library tools rather strange. In just a few years from now, they will be the graduate students and the tax payers, and they will be further away from library records than ever. With each passing year, it will be increasingly difficult to win them back–win them back to our *tools,* not necessarily to our *collections,* although that may prove to be difficult as well if the Google Book agreement is implemented and we see how it is used.
So, as I look at all of these projects as a web designer, I look at them with an idea of usefulness to those who use the tools I make. It is an axiom of information architecture that a page grows in importance with the number of links it has both to it and from it (this is a measure of how well it is incorporated into the WWW). As a designer, I will link to pages that contain useful links. Linking to a dead page (no links) will serve no purpose and only anger my constituents. This is why I can’t imagine anyone linking to id.loc.gov and why they might to dbpedia: one is value-added and the other has none at all. We have to give the web designers out there a genuine reason to put in a link to our tools, otherwise, they won’t do it.
But, I believe that LCSH can potentially provide users much more useful browsing, using the great syndetic structure, so long as people do *not* have to navigate it as they did in the card catalog, where it worked a lot better. I think the see alsos are great, so that when I think I want “Authority” I find the exceedingly helpful:
Narrower Term: Example.
Narrower Term: General will.
Narrower Term: Power (Philosophy)
See Also: Authoritarianism
See Also: Consensus (Social sciences)
and use the links to discover that I really want: Legitimacy of governments. This should be incredibly simple to do today, and I think that if it were, and with appropriate useful links incorporated, people would really like it.
But perhaps this is all a matter of doing something like Jane said and getting into cooperative projects such as HIVE [Hi Jane! And thanks for the link!]. This could be one of the areas that I and others have mentioned about “losing control,” where catalogers and librarians become merely one among equals. For example, we could put from the URIs to the id.loc.gov in dbpedia. I don’t know what good that would do, but we could. Nevertheless, I feel there is a huge role for us to play, both in the creation and management of metadata and in other areas of the web to lend a layer of some type of “authority,” but it will probably be with tools created by others since what we have made just doesn’t seem to cut it.