Friday, February 17, 2012

Re: RDA as the collaboratively created way forward[?]; was Is RDA the Only Way? An Alternative Option Through International Cooperation

Posting to RDA-L

On 16/02/2012 19:57, Myers, John F. wrote:
<snip> 
I fail to understand how it is possible to remove ‘user tasks’ from a platform.  They don’t exist there in the first place.  The user tasks exist OUTSIDE any platform and reside WITH the USER.

No matter what tool or platform is used, there has to be sufficient hooks associated with the resources it is describing in order for it to return a set of results for the FIND task.  There has to be sufficient ancillary data, hook-like or otherwise, provided in those results for the user accomplish the IDENTIFY and SELECT task.  And lastly, there has to be some further aspect of the record for the user to complete the OBTAIN task. 

In Google, the hooks are the data compiled and indexed by its spiders, the ancillary data is the brief description below the link, the obtain aspect is the actual link.  Similar pieces of data arise from the other web services. 
One may argue about the elements one designates for accomplishing these tasks, one may argue about the validity of a given element for a certain population’s accomplishment of these tasks, and one may argue about the elements appropriate to specific kinds of resources, but in the end we still need to have a mechanism that returns something whenever a user casts his/her net into the information universe, lets them discriminate amongst the fish captured, and then haul one out. 
</snip>
One of the most important tasks when building anything is to ensure that you are building something that the public wants, otherwise if people don't want it, the entire task is senseless. Therefore, it is absolutely vital, in the business sense, to approach this task of finding out what the public wants, with no preconceived notions, or with the fewest possible, to ensure that you really do build something that others want, and not only that you and your group wants. It is much easier said that done and businesses go to great expense to achieve this. The Ford Edsel is one of the classic examples of a disaster. Google certainly does this kind of research, and seems to do it very well. It is pretty much the first part of a business case.

Everything I have been reading here assumes that the public wants the FRBR user tasks. I realize that to seriously question it is a major step for a librarian, and especially for a cataloger, because it has been assumed for such a long time, yet this reconsideration should have been done quite some time ago and absolutely must be done now. Google and other businesses would absolutely NEVER accept anything like that on faith. Although they may decide to take a chance the intuition of a trusted, inside employee, it would only be for a small project that they could close down easily, and they would certainly undertake nothing demanding a major outlay. No business would.

I am simply asking, where is the proof that the public wants the FRBR user tasks, and so much more than other options? And please, do not point everyone in the direction of the rules of Panizzi or Cutter, or Ranganathan's laws. In fact, I would say that because things are changing so quickly, anything over 10 years old would be suspect.

Once you determine what people want, that is when you figure out how you can try to supply those wants in various ways, based on what you currently have, your resources, and you can decide to set up a regular schedule of improvements.

But of course, RDA does not seem to want to come up with a real business case. At least, I haven't seen it yet.

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