Message to RDA-L
Bernhard Eversberg wrote:
About any particular book, there can be many "statements" out in the open world of the Web. Provided there is a stable, reliable, unique, universally used identifier, going with every suchj statement, you're very nearly there. The ISBN and ISSN are not quite that good, but the best we have, and they do already play the part of that identifier in many practical scenarios.
There is now the International Standard Text Code (ISTC) http://www.istc-international.org/ that could go some way to solving this problem. I would personally like to see some real world examples of this, since it states:
"Each ISTC is a unique "number" assigned by a centralised registration system to a textual work, when a unique set of information about that work, known as a "metadata record", is entered into the system. If another, identical metadata record has already been registered (perhaps, in the case of an out of copyright work, by another publisher), the system will assume the new ISTC request refers to the same work and will output the ISTC of the identical (or nearly identical) metadata record already held on the system.
The ISTC is not intended for identifying manifestations of a textual work, including any physical products (e.g. a printed article) or electronic formats (e.g. an electronic book). Manifestations of textual works are the subject of separate identification systems."
I have a feeling that when they say "work" they mean something more like (in FRBR-speak) "expression" since I doubt there is much use in the world for a unique number for the entirety of Homer's Odyssey (except strictly for librarians) and they are thinking of specific translations or other versions of the Odyssey. Still, I may be wrong since the whole ISTC is confusing for me in the abstract and I would like to see something practical. In any case, it does seem as if people are addressing your concerns, and it's even an ISO standard.
Concerning the "recordless" view, I see it as more moving away from the unit card, or the catalog card view (which we have today in our OPACs) and toward a type of a mashup: a dynamic view of various aspects of a resource with information drawn from a variety of sources: your own database, perhaps Amazon, H-Net, LibraryThing, perhaps you have a local Moodle implementation that people use to include information, and each user can customize the view to add or take away what he or she wants. An ISTC could go a long way in providing this type of display.
Whether this is what people really want remains to be seen!