Re: [NGC4LIB] Tim Berners-Lee on the Semantic Web

On Mon, 19 Oct 2009 19:56:26 +1100, … wrote:

>On Mon, Oct 19, 2009 at 18:45, James Weinheimer <> wrote:
>> There are several consequences to the library community from his talk,
>> ranging from formats to sharing. I am trying to imagine how the library
>> catalog will fit into the scenario he describes, a scenario that is working
>> itself out right now. The catalog records (the actual data) are obviously of
>> prime importance (format as well), and while I think the catalog itself can
>> play a highly important role, I’m still not sure how.
>I suggest to those who does *not* want library data shared openly that
>if they must, at least insist on MARC or MARCXML; that’ll keep you
>obfuscated enough. 🙂

This is one of those issues where I have gone thorugh a 180 degree change in my opinion. Originally, I thought: “I don’t care if some technicians don’t know what a 245$c is. They can look it up because the statement of responsibility is a complex concept and it can’t be explained in some stupid tag like

<statementOfResponsibility></statementOfResponsibility> or

The same goes with each area. Everybody just needs to look it up and I don’t feel sorry for them.”

Yet, while a big part of me still believes this, and I certainly fear a general dumbing down, reality demands other modes of thinking. I think that it is absolutely vital for us to enter into the world of the Semantic Web, as described by Berners-Lee so well. For that to happen, we must provide
others with a format that does not put tremendous obstacles in their way, which makes MARC just too complicated, no matter what format (XML, RDF…) it may take. While libraries need their formats for their own, internal purposes, non-librarians need their data too, but in other formats.

What should that format (or those formats) be? That is not my area of expertise, but I think that if we were to do so, it would be relatively inexpensive; it would make our bibliographic data much more accessible and much more useful to our users and the rest of the information world than almost anything else we could do. I think that if we did find a format that others could use, we might be amazed at how quickly our records would be reworked and used in all kinds of systems and in all kinds of ways. Finally, with a general sharing, we would become more important in the semantic web and not less important.

Jim Weinheimer