Re: RIP Yahoo

Posting to Autocat

On 17/07/2013 01:22, john g marr wrote:

On 16/07/2013 00:34, john g marr wrote:

… Internet search results should depend upon the competence … of the searcher

No one knows if this is true.

Again, that’s a poor argument against trying to find out or teaching the searchers.

I am trying to keep this on the topic of catalogs.

Past experience is a poor argument against trying to teach the searchers? Strange. One of the definitions of insanity is when someone keeps doing the same thing over and over, and expects different results. Sure, I have found a very few people who catch on to how to search catalogs, but when the vast majority of people complain about how difficult it is to search catalogs–and have been doing so for well over a century–that should mean something. I know some great scholars who absolutely love the new tools and who say that they can do things now that would have been impossible 20 years ago. One guy is almost 90 years old! I have similar experiences. So, which is more logical: that the zillions of searchers need to be trained/mind-altered so that they can use the catalog, or that the catalog needs to change so that zillions of people can use it more easily? Which conclusion shows the most lack of imagination?

If we accept that the problem lies not so much with everyone in the world, but with us, then we can figure out how to go about changing the catalog so that people can use it today. I have tried to show in my postings and podcasts that figuring out what is wrong with the catalog is not such a simple matter and that what may seem to be small changes to one group are actually huge changes to others–and the opposite: that what seems like huge changes to some are actually small changes to others. The RDA name changes are an example of the latter: a huge amount of work that will be expensive for libraries to do–and for many (most?) libraries, it is just completely impossible even to consider–but the impact on the public will be similar to the impact of a single photon from a far-away galaxy when it reaches the Earth: practically nil. On the other hand, the FRBR user tasks can be done right now by using the new types of indexing available, such as found in Worldcat, but also in open-source catalogs such as Koha that you can download and install for free. That is simply amazing. It didn’t need any changes to cataloging or the cataloging departments–it was made possible by some brilliant advances in programming. But nobody seems to care about that at all.


Logic suggests that we find methods that will have the biggest impact on the public, with the smallest impact on the catalog departments. Returning to the example of the RDA name changes, there has been a suggestion to use superimposition. That would be fine, but while superimposition worked more-or-less satisfactorily in card catalogs, it does not work in a keyword environment. (I discussed this at some length in “Cataloging Matters No. 16: Catalogs, Consistency and the Future” Clearly we need other solutions that will have major impacts on the public but save cataloging departments from internal chaos and outrageous expense.

On a different topic, to those who wondered if these postings are being monitored, the probable answer is: not actively, but everything is being stored so that it can all be retrieved later through algorithmic searches. So, if there is someone on this list who is somehow linked to something the government does not like, we all get investigated by the algorithm and that algorithm may not like what it finds so it can “spit out” names for further investigation. The algorithm reminds me of the “mouth” for anonymous accusations that still exists in the Doge’s Palace in Venice