Wednesday, July 21, 2010

RE: RDA and the Library Discovery Experience (Was: What to stop doing)

On Wed, 21 Jul 2010 09:15:31 -0400, Myers, John F. wrote:

>I fail to see how the perceived lack of FRBR Group entities in Google negates the applicability of the FRBR user tasks. I am going to enter search terms into the Google box, relying on the Google algorithm to FIND a set of "hits" to resources for me; within that set of "hits" I am going to peruse the summaries of the associated resources to IDENTIFY one or more that seem promising; having identified such promising resources, I will further decide to SELECT one or more; and I will lastly click on the link(s) to OBTAIN the selected resources. Granted, in practice, it is more of a FIND and then IDENTIFY-SELECT-OBTAIN division. As the FRBR model is an intellectual construct though, I do not have any qualms with a division of the latter "hyper-task" into distinct constituent intellectual tasks, however closely they may actually take place -- to the point that I am not actually cognizant of them as distinct tasks while performing them.

It's too bad that everyone wants to focus on the users' activity and not on what they are finding. It's amazing that I vociferously state over and over again that I do not know what users are doing today, and I refuse to even make a guess as to how these people are interoperating with the informationout there. Yet, others want to say that I am wrong--that we *know* what our users are doing. Sure, I'll agree that users *may be doing* what FRBR said back in the 1990s, but we can't be sure of it, and in my experience, users are doing something different by interacting with others, clicking on hyperlinks and surfing, sharing recommendations and bookmarks, RSS feeds, embedded documents and everything being sliced and diced to death. I am only sure of one thing: the only people who can possibly have a clue about how people work with information today are the reference librarians and specialist researchers, i.e. experts who work a lot with the public. I have some experience, but not nearly like others have, but I have noted that much of what I have seen others do, and I do myself, does not seem to fit into F/I/S/O. Still, it seems that if you have a big enough hammer you can make almost anything fit into anything else. (Remember the O-ring disaster with the Discovery shuttle?)

What is important with F/I/S/O is to accept that all of that part is out of our control: people will do whatever they do. What is in our control, and what is our task however, is to create something that fulfills their needs. So my concern is with the "what" (i.e. the records we make) that users are interacting with (however they do it) and the "how" they are doing it. As I wrote before: they are interacting with information right now very successfully without any works expressions manifestations or items, and without any authors titles or subjects. I stand by that. In fact, I have run across several students who don't even understand what a search by author, title, or subject even means! All they know is Google and Wikipedia, and they don't have anything like that.

These are the patrons we are getting now, and will probably be a majority in the very near future if they aren't already: they are becoming more and more distant from our tools--tools that, as I pointed out, were designed in the distant past. I say that FRBR and RDA try only extend this past instead of creating something new and useful for modern society. What we make is vital, I still believe it, but what is important is to make others believe it. I don't believe FRBR and RDA can do that.

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