Thursday, November 19, 2009

[NGC4LIB] FRBR WEMI and identifiers

Ross,

I really appreciate the indepth answer you provided, but I still have some problems.

First, your example of the SKOS:
owl:sameAs <info:lc/authorities/sh2009120881> ;
skos:inScheme <http://id.loc.gov/authorities#conceptScheme>,
<http://id.loc.gov/authorities#topicalTerms> ;
skos:prefLabel "Communication--Political aspects--United States"@en;
lcsh:coordinates
<http://id.loc.gov/authorities/sh85029027#concept>,
<http://id.loc.gov/authorities/sh00005651#concept>,
<http://purl.org/NET/marccodes/gacs/n-us#location> .

is fine and I believe does exactly what I have been saying that we need. but as you say, we must imagine this sometime in the future since it doesn't work now (not only because the term United States is not yet avaialble, but because the system is not set up that way. i.e. there is currently no link from
http://id.loc.gov/authorities/sh2009120881

to either:

<http://id.loc.gov/authorities/sh85029027#concept>,
<http://id.loc.gov/authorities/sh00005651#concept>,

The reason this does not work currently is because everything is still based on how people browsed a card or printed catalog. It all made perfect sense before, but fell apart with keyword searching. I think I need to stop and explain this because it may be becoming "lost information." For those who know this already, I apologize in advance.

If someone wanted to find books on the politics of communications in the U.S., they would open the "C" catalog drawer (not "P" and not "U") and begin going through the cards until they would come to "Communication," which--in theory--would be a raised card with the information now available at http://id.loc.gov/authorities/sh85029027#concept printed on it. They would read and learn whatever was on this raised card, then they would continue to browse (for quite awhile sometimes) until they ran across the subdivision "Political aspects" and continue to "United States."

In reality, it never worked that well because librarians were scared that the catalog would get too big, so they placed very few guide cards into the catalog, and as a result, almost all of the cross-references were found only in the red books. As a result, the red books were vital for the searcher to get all of these cross-references and such, but relatively few people actually used them. (I confess I did not understand their importance until library school, and I know I am not alone! BTW, a discussion is going on about the red books now on Autocat) People, including me, nevertheless muddled through somehow.

This system worked even worse when computers arrived with keyword since people ceased browsing the headings as they were supposed to, and with keyword searching, they would jump right into a record placed in the *middle of the file,* then see the subjects, and choose "Communication--Political aspects--United States." When they clidked on this link (if the system allowed it) you would be thrown into the *middle* of the old, card catalog browse list and not at the beginning as it was designed to work. This is how the LC catalog works right now. But the searcher still needs the information found under "Communication" plus lots more along the way, and now, the only way to get this information is to browse up and up to the top, often, after many, many screens. Of course, nobody does this except weirdos like me who understand how it is *supposed* to work. But, it's still a pain to do it and there must be something better.

Therefore, the link from "Communication--Political aspects--United States" to "Communication" is absolutely critical if the headings are to be useful, since the traditional method of browsing does not work anymore, and hasn't for a long time.

Therefore, while the structure you point out may work in the future, it doesn't appear to right now, and we are forced to imagine. The trouble with imagining is: I and lots of other people can imagine a lot and once people begin imagining, they can imagine how much more they could and should get, instead of only the internal relationships to "Communication" "Political aspects" and "United States." I think something like: http://dbpedia.org/page/Category:Communication would be found pretty useful by lots of people out there. Also, I would like some level of real world searches to be involved. My example has always been the real world keyword search for someone who is interested in battles of WWII: "wwii battles" which should retrieve the cross-references:
See: World War, 1939-1945--Aerial operations.
See: World War, 1939-1945--Campaigns.
See: World War, 1939-1945--Naval operations.

which appears now only if you search: "World War, 1939-1945 battles" which nobody would ever do. With a structure as you lay out above and what I think is necessary, it is at least possible because there is a reference for "wwii" in http://id.loc.gov/authorities/sh85148273 which appears nowhere else. This structure reflects how the card catalog functioned. I have written some more on this in one of my "Open replies" to Thomas Mann, where I discuss some of the problems of subjects, at: http://eprints.rclis.org/13059/1/OntheRecordOpenReply.pdf

<snip>
Your basis for this thread was to mitigate the effort and expense of our current cataloging process by ignoring RDA and FRBR and, instead, tweaking AACR2. But then you ask if we should drop LCSH for dbpedia. These seems completely disjoint. How would we begin to justify the retrospective conversion?
</snip>

I do not want that at all. We should be working hard to make LCSH actually useful for the public who now approach information retrieval in ways completely differently from before (primarily, using keyword which, as I tried to show, makes the LCSH browses more or less incoherent). But even more importantly, we must create something that is genuinely useful to our users and this means to *not* merely recreate the functionality of the card catalog, but we should try to recreate its power--because there was a power that is not replicated in our library catalogs (as I have tried to demonstrate) and certainly not in Google and the like. This also shouldn't take 10 years to do.

If it turns out that all we can do is recreate the traditional browses used in the card catalog, I am afraid it may not be worthwhile.

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