Posting to Autocat
Kevin M. Randall wrote:
There is a logical fallacy in play in the argument above. Searching BY author/title/subject and searching FOR author/title/subject are two entirely different things. Just because Google doesn’t allow you to search specifically BY an author’s name, or a title, or a subject does not mean that you cannot search FOR that author or title or subject.
Can you really say with certainty that someone typing “john steinbeck” is NOT searching FOR the that author’s name? Or that someone typing “grapes of wrath” is NOT searching for that title? Or that someone typing “dust bowl fiction” is not looking for something on that subject? I will grant that there may be a few instances in which the searcher is really looking for something else, but surely one can safely assume that the searcher is likely looking for that author or that title or that subject.
The absence of a search index limited to specific data type does not mean that no one ever searches for that data type.
I do not know what people search for; I have thought a lot about what I search for myself and I am still unsure. Sometimes it’s subjects, or authors, much more rarely for titles. With me I found that I look a lot for quick information that helps me solve a particular problem. I hesitate to call that author title or subject. I don’t know what I would call it. People are finding information in brand new ways that we cannot imagine because they have tools they have never had before. I have still not seen any research that says that our public wants FRBR user tasks, but I have seen lots of other research.
I still maintain that it is illogical to claim that people “are really” searching by author title or subject in tools where they cannot, by definition, do it, such as Google. To me, that makes as much sense as some horse and buggy maker saying that working with an automobile *really* is like working with a horse and buggy. Both have to intake some kind of fuel, both have an exhaust, both make noises, both allow you to get back and forth to work, both need maintenance, etc. Of course, a horse and buggy is not a car. To insist on something like this, when the new tools make possibilities almost endless, limits our own imaginations terribly, and this will have serious consequences for our profession.
I do agree with Mark Presnar that “selection” is very important, and in this sense, becomes very similar to Ross Atkinson’s “control zone.” I plan to discuss this in a future podcast. I believe there are many possibilities open to the use of our records in novel and important ways, but we must keep our minds open and not limited to 19th-century methods.