Excerpted from a private message concerning http://email@example.com/msg03161.html
My own thoughts on the future of authority control are a bit different however, and relate to why I mentioned web services in my original message. It seems to me that authority control using URIs would be absolutely perfect when used in conjunction with a web service. I do not know precisely how this would work, but now that there is the id.loc.gov site, the VIAF, the dbpedia project, which appears to be an “authority file” based on wikipedia, tools that I don’t know about, and others that will come up as the Semantic Web is built, it could become incredibly rich.
This view means that much of authority control will be taken out of the catalog, out of the library, and even out of the library community itself. Libraries can relate to this trend (which I think is the inevitable outcome as the Semantic Web grows) in different ways: by fighting it to retain their “control” (whatever that will mean), or to accept things and try to fit in so as to help shape the future.
For all of these reasons, this is why I think the open source movement is so important. The world of information is in a state of flux right now, and only *real* experimentation (i.e. trial and error) by many people will help us find solutions. Large organizations encumbered by very difficult to change proprietary systems may not be the appropriate areas to find these solutions.
I envision to myself the situation of the dinosaurs, who were so happy and successful for millions of years, with the mammals barely making it, but when the comet hit, the dinosaurs died because they couldn’t adapt, but the mammals could. It’s the same situation today with the libraries, publishers and other creators of intellectual creativity, who did so well for so long, and then the World Wide Web struck. Everybody is in a state of panic and many, (read the publishers) are trying to keep the old ways of doing things, when it is clear those days are gone. This is when I remember the quote of Darwin: “It is not the strongest of species that survives, nor the most intelligent; it is the one that is most adaptable to change.”
I really believe that this describes the situation as it is today. There is real success possible today for people and organizations who are willing to adapt.