Posting to Autocat
Sorry to appear obtuse, but I don’t believe I have missed the point. I said that sometimes people may be searching for authors, titles, and subjects, but FRBR makes a statement that this is what people do and it is clear that people are doing other things. It is my experience that people are primarily doing those other things. What those things are, I do not know, and no one knows, but these things that they are doing now go beyond the FRBR user tasks, which are based in the 19th century, if not earlier. I think Kevin’s example of “grapes of wrath” is an excellent case in point. When someone searches that, I do not know what they have in mind: they may want Steinbeck’s book, they may want things about Steinbeck’s book, they may want the Battle Hymn of the Republic, they may want to find how such an allusion has been used throughout the years, and how it has changed. These are some of the more realistic “user tasks and needs” of today, and perhaps people have been doing this all along. In any case, this is what we have to adapt ourselves to because this is what our public is expecting from information tools.
The entire purpose of RDA is to enact the FRBR user tasks, which allows people to FISO WEMI by their ATS (shorthand again). In other messages, I have made it clear that it is not the fault of those who created FRBR to have come up with this: it was just that FRBR came out too soon, before the real explosion of massive full-text searching by keyword and relevance ranking appeared and changed matters in ways that had been impossible to foresee. Everything must be rethought in light of these new developments, which are no longer so new.
I do not believe that people *never* want the FRBR user tasks and in fact I haven’t said that, but it is my experience, and research that I have seen shows that this is only a tiny part of what the public is doing now, and is increasingly less relevant to what they want and need. Now, perhaps after some research, we could find out that people really are primarily doing the FRBR user tasks, although there seems to be a lot of evidence that shows precisely the opposite. I may personally agree that what is happening is good or not–that is completely irrelevant. FRBR describes *how the traditional catalog works.* It does not logically follow that this is also *what people want or need*, and that is where I believe lies the fallacy. Such a declaration of what people want and need must be demonstrated.
We can either accept the fact that people are not following the FRBR user tasks, or ignore it. If we accept it, we can either deal with it and adapt, or we can try to explain it away. I feel that we need to adapt to the new ways, otherwise we will find ourselves in a very lonely spot. People in the hard sciences and technical sciences have found little use for the catalog for quite some time now, while the social sciences are following suit. All we have left are the humanities, who still say they need us, but even that percentage is going down.
In spite of this, I still maintain that there is a tremendous power lying dormant in our catalog records, but that power must be released. To do this requires free flights of the imagination, which means to free ourselves from the FRBR user tasks.