Thursday, July 19, 2012

Re: Lack(?) of research, or, Let's hear it for the nobodies

Posting to Autocat

On 18/07/2012 19:30, Kevin M Randall wrote:
<snip>
James Weinheimer wrote:
With RDA/FRBR, there is still *absolutely zero* evidence that any of this will make any difference at all to the public because nobody has ever done the research.
"Nobody"? I suppose the people involved in the projects listed here are all "nobodies": http://infoserv.inist.fr/wwsympa.fcgi/d_read/frbr/FRBR_bibliography.rtf It's one thing to agree or disagree with results of research. It's quite another to deny the existence of the research.
</snip>
I am not trying to insult anyone but this is not a game of egos and we should be trying to reach the truth. I am more than willing to admit that my ideas are wrong but please, demonstrate to me which of these papers performed research on the public to demonstrate that people wanted RDA and FRBR over and above other services. I won't argue that they betray a lot of work, but it does not demonstrate how RDA or FRBR will make any meaningful difference to the public. To be honest, I don't really care if catalogers like it or not, so long as the public likes it and finds it useful. To paraphrase Mark Twain, catalogers have little or no influence on society(!).

Of course, all of it definitely will make a difference to libraries and catalogers, but not in additional productivity, greater simplicity or additional access. When I have discussed this with real, live scholars (I actually know quite a few) what RDA will do, they do not understand anything about linked data and won't listen to it, but when I tell them the differences in what will have consequences they will see in their research (practically nothing aside from a few display differences), they just wind up laughing and say, "We are supposed to give up some of our own subscriptions to pay for this?" That is a completely understandable question and is in agreement with the LC/NLM/NAL report. These are often the types of people who are the decision-makers in funding decisions. I have wondered how these people were convinced (or not)?

None of the scholars I have discussed this with (at least the ones who don't pass out too soon) care at all about navigating through the WEMI, although many definitely do want specific editions. There is a scholar-side of me, and I am one of those who wants specific editions, but as far as navigating through them--no. The Worldcat-type facets achieve everything I could want--and even more.

But what is happening now? The Google-type searching is becoming so powerful that it can change the way we think. I still believe all librarians should watch Daniel Russell's "What Does It Mean To Be Literate in the Age of Google?" that I mentioned earlier http://blog.jweinheimer.net/2012/05/what-does-it-mean-to-be-literate-in-age.html. While these questions may not be very realistic (or maybe they are), it shows what can be answered today and that opens up all kinds of new possibilities that could never have been imagined just 10 or 20 years ago. Only one of the many points he makes is that people who do not know Control-F are not literate today (find text within a page). A fascinating observation. His blog is unnerving for a librarian/cataloger: http://searchresearch1.blogspot.it/ but this is reality.

At the same time, there are many powers of the traditional catalog that are not available in Google. But they are not FRBR. I won't go into that again however.

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