Wednesday, March 10, 2010

RE: [RDA-L] expressions and manifestations

Posting to RDA-L
Concerning http://www.mail-archive.com/rda-l@listserv.lac-bac.gc.ca/msg03284.html


Karen has delineated the problem very well, but we should all just admit that *any solution* on these analytic-type records will definitely *not* be followed by everyone. I don't think that lots of libraries outside the Anglo-American bibliographic world would ever agree to use a 505 (although I personally like them!). The best we can do is to decide to help one another as much as possible.This is why I think the solution lies much more in terms of "open data." Someone on one of the lists suggested the TED talk of Berners-Lee (thank you, whoever you are!). I finally saw it last night available at: http://www.ted.com/talks/tim_berners_lee_the_year_open_data_went_worldwide.html and I suggest that everyone watch this. (TED talks are very short. This one is less than 6 minutes, so it shouldn't take too much time) What he demonstrates is something absolutely amazing, and it happened only because some agencies put their data in a place for others to take and share in different ways! I found it quite inspiring. How could this work with our data?

If there were an open way of sharing data, I can imagine that, e.g. Mac in Canada makes a record with a 505 note. It is placed into something like the Internet Archive. Bernhard in Germany is working, finds the record with the 505 and runs a very clever macro that he and his friends have made and turns the record into something more suitable for his purposes. Maybe it's not 100%, but even 70% will save a lot of manual editing. He places his version somewhere, so now there are two versions. We can probably see that there could be multiple versions rather quickly.

Some other person, perhaps a non-librarian, wants to take all of these versions and merge them in another incredibly clever way and this person adds his/her own information. What would this be? Right off, I can think of a public, cooperative effort to input tables of contents, with links if possible. This would definitely be appreciated by everyone in the world. Now we are getting something absolutely new. At this stage, there will be a real desire for genuine cooperation since everyone can see how they can all benefit if they work together. Plus, it all happens while everyone is still helping one another in very concrete ways that everyone can point to.

Is this pie-in-the-sky? Definitely not. It is happening *right now* in other information communities, as Berners-Lee shows. And it has happened very, very quickly. The problem is deciding to take the leap and let our information--now seen in proprietary terms--into the world.

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