Posting to RDA-L
Dan Matei wrote:
I’m afraid we tend to dramatise the edge cases.
87.34% of the users will perfectly understand when you state that an article is about “Hamlet”, the play or when you state that Mahler composed “Das Klagende Lied” or when you state that (say) The Falkner Estate owns the copyright on “Absalom, Absalom !”.
So, the (abstract) idea of a work is quite common. And, as John Myers just reminded us, you (catalogers) used it extensively in the uniform titles. “For ages”, he said.
I shall reply that applying this kind of abstract reasoning is one thing, but I am thinking of the cataloger who is sitting at the desk, perhaps alone, and *has to make the decisions* what is the work, expression and so on. Doing these things in practice will be something completely different from thinking about it abstractly, just as it was (and still is) in the determination of deciding which subject heading to use: Russia, Soviet Union, Former Soviet republics (if not all of them!). And in the back of the cataloger’s mind is the certainty that any mistake will be pounced on!
In the proposed FRBR universe, a mess-up on a work or expression will obviously have consequences, and I suspect that in such a linked system, the consequences could be far greater than mistakes today. While in theory, an edit to a work record should automatically be replicated in all related expressions and manifestations, a completely wrong work record will have unforeseen consequences since all expressions and manifestations will be built on the information in the work record. If anything, it seems that consistency will be more important in the FRBR linked-data universe than it is today.
The only consolation is that for now RDA still uses the same methods, as Bernhard mentions, and we will keep on making manifestation records.