Posting to Autocat, RDA-L
On 10/9/2014 9:46 PM, Adam L. Schiff wrote:
The examples are simply being changed to match the main instructions in RDA 126.96.36.199.
188.8.131.52 Initial Articles
When recording the title, include an initial article, if present.
The invisible man
Der seidene Faden
Eine kleine Nachtmusik
La vida plena
The most of P.G. Wodehouse
Following this main instruction, there is an alternative to omit an initial article “unless the title for a work is to be accessed under that article (e.g., a title that begins with the name of a person or place).”
LC practice/PCC practice (and Anglo-American practice in general) is to apply the alternative. However, examples throughout RDA illustrate the basic instructions, not the alternative or exceptions. When 184.108.40.206 was revised to make the basic instruction include initial articles, the examples throughout RDA were not changed at the same time. But they are being changed now. PCC and U.S. cataloging practice will continue to follow the alternative instruction in RDA though.
This is one of those perennial issues that I hoped would more or less disappear. Some cultures do not file under initial articles but others do. In any case, the purpose of omitting initial articles is for browsing left-anchored text (so that you don’t look for “The Swiss Family Robinson” under “T”) but I don’t know how many users do that any more. I haven’t seen users do it. I don’t do it. [Added to online version: with the exception of when I am cataloging something. That is when I have the book (or other item) in my hands. Of course, this is specific to the act of cataloging. Users do not do this because once they have the item in hand, they no longer need to look at the record] I confess that even I, when I look up names or titles, I just throw words together, in any order that comes to me, e.g. “finn mark twain”. I’ve seen lots of people do that and I recently discovered this type of searching even has been considered a type of language with names such as “Searchese” or even “Caveman” (which I like!).
The current trends in searching are more toward “conversational search” which is based on natural language. See: http://allthingsd.com/20130314/how-search-is-evolving-finally-beyond-caveman-queries/ There have been some impressive advances. Jeopardy’s Watson was simply incredible but now these methods are being introduced into everybody’s smartphones and browsers–for free. http://searchengineland.com/google-upgrades-conversational-search-mobile-apps-205535 and Google Chrome does it now.
From my own experience of the Google conversational search, it is simply bad and nowhere near as good as Watson, but who knows where it will be in just 5 years from now?
In any case, search technology is evolving and the public will become more and more accustomed to those methods, while our traditional methods will look increasingly strange. As a consequence, these debates whether to add an initial article or not are becoming obsolete and irrelevant to what people really do, and is similar to arguing how IBM punched cards should be used today. We should be adapting our methods to the public instead of expecting them to do left-anchored text browses, eliminating (or not) initial articles. That is a remnant of days long past.
Linked data means that everything will be based on URIs and that using text for authority purposes is going away, e.g. this one for Swiss Family Robinson which has one link but all kinds of forms http://www.viaf.org/viaf/176999342/#Wyss,_Johann_David,_1743-1818._|_Schweizerische_Robinson. There is also this from dbpedia which the public would possibly find more useful http://dbpedia.org/page/The_Swiss_Family_Robinson
Once the links are input (if that ever starts to happen!) the task will then be to match a searcher interested in this title to these–and other–links, plus making everything coherent and relatively easy to use.
I think that is when things will become interesting!