Re: Revolution in our Minds: Seeing the World Anew

Posting to RDA-L

On 20/02/2012 11:38, Bernhard Eversberg wrote:

20.02.2012 10:03, James Weinheimer:

I just posted the paper on my blog that I gave in Oslo at the Oslo and Akershus University College of Applied Sciences on Feb. 2 of this year. 

Thanks for this essay which should serve well to broaden our view of the stuff we are dealing with and the ways we do it.Your paper is mainly focused on the Find function and not so much the other three. And of course, Find is the hopeful outcome of Search, and Search is Google’s much valued invention to turn Search into a product.

Thanks very much! Yes, find/search is extremely important, but the final part of my paper was, in a way, discussing identify, select, obtain. In order to I/S/O, a human must be “aware” of the resource that they may, or may not, want to identify, select, or obtain. Therefore, the catalog must communicate information that is relevant to the human. This was my idea of trying to imagine what the catalog record would look like in the future (i.e. how it would communicate information about a single resource to a human), my failure to do so, and how I continued from there. Of course, this was a very simple task that turned out, for me anyway, exceedingly difficult. Other tasks will be far more complex, I am sure. Today with search engines and digital resources, “select” can take place only *after* someone “obtains” it, and I don’t even know what “identify” would be in a keyword environment. *In theory*, linked data could solve a part of that.
Yet, I suspect that this mode of thinking is more in the realm of making the best feather pen anyone could ever imagine…  We need to find completely new solutions.

I want to emphasize that a lot of this brave new world I really do not like. So much of it, as you mention, is run by private companies that can go bankrupt or sell off any part it wants or change its policies, all without your permission or even informing you. I truly believe that library ethics and even some of our methods could help improve everyone’s life now that “information” has become so important. These are some of the tasks that I think libraries *really* do, instead of “select, acquire, receive, etc.”

What I found most important in your paper is how you point to LCSH for its potential of upgrading our catalogs for new functionality. This is generally overdue to be realized, and overdue in particular because subject access is part of the Find task, and very probably the most important part by far.

Every time I look at that Linked Data/Semantic Web diagram, e.g. and I see how dbpedia sits astride it all, I think that *if* our subject headings had been released much, much earlier and the public had been allowed to work with them, perhaps we would be seeing LCSH as the center instead of dbpedia.

That is all in the past unfortunately.

Based on my own experience, I have absolutely no doubt that the public would love our subjects because they provide something found nowhere else. But we would have to make them function in a digital environment because they just do not work now. It’s time we faced up to it. I know it could be done and it would be worthwhile. It would take some amount of money (although probably not that much), but a lot of initiative, innovation, hard work and most important, a willingness to fail a few times. Or more.