Posting to Open-bibliography
Karen Coyle wrote:
That is exactly what the OL page does. The page is derived from the data in the database. Whether or not it shows summaries or first lines is really up to the implementation, but it is essentially what you say: a query that brings the relevant records together. At that point, users can move in various directions. If you click on the subject http://openlibrary.org/subjects/ship_captains_in_fiction from that page you go to a subject page that has a publishing timeline, and a lot of choices for next steps for the user. I think this should be the point of the library catalog (or any catalog for that matter), which is to help people discover things they might not have originally thought about.
This is good since this display is generated and demands no real extra work to create from scratch. Of course, the formal FRBR work attributes will necessarily get thrown out. I still question the utility of the summary for Moby Dick. If you take that out, and the Lucene/Zebra indexing is applied to extract the headings, what are we left with? A traditional list of catalog records. It’s nice; it’s certainly an improvement over the traditional displays; but does this sort of display fit people’s needs today?
The only way to find out would be to conduct research on different populations, but I would hazard the guess that mostly, it does not. For example, I can’t imagine how my students would find this type of display to be of any practical help to them. Yet, when I ask myself what really would be of use, I find it far more difficult to find an answer.
I think I am too much into the traditional methods to figure this out and I would have to defer to outsiders. Nevertheless, the FRBR user tasks seem to me more irrelevant than ever.