RDA/FRBR and the Business Case; Was:RDA as the collaboratively created way forward[?]

Posting to RDA-L

On 16/02/2012 22:38, Brenndorfer, Thomas wrote:

[James Weinheimer wrote:]

Everything I have been reading here assumes that the public wants the FRBR user tasks.

 No, you have been creating straw man arguments by making it seem ridiculous that users want to know technical terms and mechanisms to conduct searches.

The point you have missed is that it isn’t a question of “wanting” the FRBR user tasks, but that the tasks are being done regardless. The debate is only about which elements are best, and how they are utilized by users in the context of different systems (and Google has the same issue as any other system, as has been pointed out).

It’s not a question about market testing an Edsel; it’s a question about what to do with a steering wheel versus some other mechanism to steer the vehicle. People may not want an Edsel but they do need to steer.

You are essentially asking for proof that people want to steer a vehicle when driving one.

Anybody who has been following our debate must think that my apartment is crammed with straw men and your toolbox is filled with hammers labelled “FRBR”! In some other messages, I am accused of saying that nobody wants to do the FRBR user tasks. Well, perhaps in the heat of things, I have said “nobody” but I rarely mean anything in such an absolute way, so I actually mean (as I have mentioned more than once before) that relatively few searches made by relatively few people really need the FRBR user tasks. Therefore, some do. Mea culpa! Mea culpa!

Therefore in the future, if I say “nobody” wants the FRBR user tasks, I will try my utmost to add an asterisk, which will automatically mean to add the following disclaimer: “Please keep in mind this actually means that relatively few searches made by relatively few people really want the FRBR user tasks”. If I happen to forget the asterisk, please add it mentally for me! 🙂

Now to continue:
Following your analogy about the steering wheel on the car, I shall actually agree to an extent, but a bit differently: do people want to drive the cars themselves or do they prefer someone else to do the driving? In the past when the only choice people had was the catalog they found in a library, they had no choice except to “drive” it themselves. Now with other tools, people have discovered that they like full-text, keyword, SEO-driven searches to do the “driving” for them. The modern idea of “Search” is only in its infancy at this point, and it is very difficult to foresee what that will turn into. “Search” probably could not have been imagined even 15 years ago, much less its enormous implications, but it has been going on for some time and we can only assume it will improve tremendously and probably very quickly. Therefore, with each day libraries fall further and further behind.

So, to follow your analogy, I see it that people have gotten used to speeding around in a Ferrari, driven by a very hot and attentive driver, and then FRBR comes up saying, here is our horse and buggy with the very latest in bridles and a great whip! This is what you really want!

Yeah, sure.

That people have abandoned our traditional methods for keyword searches is a fact in everybody’s experience that does not have to be proven. From that moment, people ceased being able to navigate the WEMI in any kind of coherent way although in fact, the public could continue to search for WEMI in our library catalogs by using left-anchored text browses, but chose not to do it. It must be admitted that they have mostly not felt the loss.

As I mentioned before about the changes, when it comes to FISO (find, identify, etc.), “Search” is changing the old concept of find into something completely new, while the I/S/O parts are being combined into a single action with electronic materials. The only way to identify or select something is to obtain it first. Personally, I like most of these changes, except for my reservations about “Search”, which I have mentioned before. I think few would agree with my reservations however.

Insisting that the FRBR user tasks are so important to our patrons that we have to restructure our rules and systems, thereby incurring serious expenses, AND to assert that the same functionality cannot be done through innovative programming techniques that would be immeasurably cheaper and far less disruptive, must be demonstrated if someone is to create a valid business case for RDA, which is the first step on the path to the realization of FRBR.

But nobody seems to want to come up with a business case, so I guess everyone is supposed to accept RDA without a business case. Sounds like we are heading into Edsel territory to me!

Please allow room for some very serious skepticism. Especially when there are so many different possibilities today to really make a difference.