Posting to Autocat
On 26/08/2014 7.38, Hal Cain wrote:
We need to be practical, and put the practical level of information on the top level, where it’s most visible. The subtleties and complexities do need to be recorded, but they are not necessarily “what matters for cataloguing” where it’s our job to fit them into the bibliographical context.
Hal Cain, who doubts that all the subtleties and complexities called for by RDA matter much to the human users of the product of cataloguing
Hear, hear! To catalog an item is not to turn it into a research project suitable for publication. Certainly, the cataloger may do some bits of research when cataloging items but even then, that is when it makes a difference to the public, e.g. the cataloger finds out that materials published under a bunch of separate names were actually pseudonyms of a single author. But those occurrences are rare.
The simple fact that the public prefers Google-type results, as shown by the overwhelming preference for keyword searching and relevance ranking–even in our own catalogs–speaks volumes and should be a major consideration in our discussions. Google doesn’t have any of the subtleties that we discuss, and nobody seems to complain about it. At present, the public seems to be concerned much more with censorship (e.g. the EU’s “Right to be forgotten” http://rt.com/news/177232-eu-google-forgotten-ruling/) and privacy (e.g. the Edward Snowden/NSA controversy).
There are also concerns, but less pressing, over “filter bubbles” and “information overload.” I have not seen that WEMI and FRBR, with their relationships (which are what is really new) deal with any of this.
But the field of librarianship and cataloging in particular, address all of these issues and can offer special insights that–I think–could even point in the directions of some solutions.