Re: [NGC4LIB] The “A” in RDA

Posting to NGC4LIB

On 02/08/2013 20:35, Ross Singer wrote:

On Fri, Aug 2, 2013 at 12:22 PM, James Weinheimer wrote:

When I have managed in a very few cases to get someone to understand how the subject headings work, they ask: Why don’t Google and Yahoo work this way? That question made me feel great! I think that people today would absolutely love that kind of “new” and “innovative” experience that they can find nowhere else on the web. Google, Yahoo, Microsoft, Apple and the other “information companies” will never offer such access.

I don’t know that this is necessarily true. If, say, the data we make available to Google, Yahoo, MS, et al is well marked up, JSON-LD, rdfa-lite, etc., AND there are sensible relationships between things (that are machine parsable) I see no reason that these companies wouldn’t take advantage of it. Sure they might need a profit motive to implement something, but given the fact that Google has Play (which sells/rents books, movies, music, etc.) it’s not terribly difficult to make the leap. The key is finding ways to leverage this data so it’s profitable for all parties.

What I mean is that the Googles, Yahoos, etc. will not pay money (i.e. to libraries or to catalogers) to create that access. Sure, they will always be happy to snap up anybody’s free labor so that they can make a profit on it.

Please realize that I don’t think there is anything wrong for the Googles to profit from the labor of others since that is just the way the world works. But, I also don’t think there is anything wrong with others profiting from the Googles. Therefore, give the Googles just enough information to drive people to your site and once you have them, then wow everybody with your content and tools.

A question to Karen:

… the catalog is only one library service, and perhaps not the most important one. I don’t understand all of this emphasis on the catalog, without a similar emphasis on the library as a whole. How much is your catalog used in relation to how much your library is used? How many users go to the catalog, how many go straight to the shelf? Is this really where we should be spending our energy? Are users drawn to your library because of the catalog? Do they even think about it?

I agree with this, but what other services do you have in mind? Certainly not reference because (sadly) it is in the dumper. I am thinking of people using libraries on the web (of necessity, I think) and I don’t know what else libraries have to offer in this sense besides their catalogs, some archival finding aids and perhaps some research guides. It is true that most members of the public have always hated the catalog and much prefer to go directly into the collection, but it doesn’t work very well. People are often lost in the stacks, especially people who are just starting out. I mentioned this in a paper I gave at ALA, when I quoted Noam Chomsky, who said:
“… the Internet is kind of like walking into the Library of Congress in a sense. Everything is there, but you have to know what you’re looking for. If you don’t know what you’re looking for you might as well not have the library. Like you can’t decide you want to become a biologist — it’s not enough to walk into Harvard’s biology library. You have to have a framework of understanding, a conception of what’s important and what isn’t important; what makes sense and what doesn’t make sense. Not a rigid one that never gets modified, but at least some kind of framework.
Unfortunately that’s pretty rare.”

Even in Google, you are working with a “record” of a sort that has a short summary of the item, that leads you to click to see it (or not).

It seems to me as if the collection itself (however that collection is defined–and it must be redefined) will be the center of it, and the finding tool (catalog) will be vital to getting into the information in the collection. And yet, I think there would be room for a vastly enhanced catalog, created in close conjunction with reference and selectors, to create something brand new.