RE: Copernicus, Cataloging, and the Chairs on the Titanic, Part 1 [Long Post]

Posting to NGC4LIB

Jimmy Ghaphery wrote:

One of the initial points of this thread had the audacity to say: “Stop Bashing Google.” I think there is a middle ground between blindly
accepting Google as perfect and treating it as useless.

When I search for “Caravaggio paintings” (without quotes), I am not aware of any library catalog that does as a good of a job with this
search query.

I get a nice cluster of images, top three links are not bad at all…

Latest news on Caravaggio, current and from respected newspapers.


Perhaps I need to clarify: what I wrote (or at least meant) was that, as the people who make websites learn ever more subtle methods to manipulate Google results to their own advantage–as is happening right now, with entire businesses created for this purpose (see the Google search for Search Engine Optimization, the searcher for “Caravaggio paintings” will get results that are *increasingly* useless, i.e. search results that actually serve the purposes of *those who wish to manipulate the results* you see vs. what is really and truly relevant for your informational needs.

While the results in Google may be interesting and useful, we must contrast then with a search on a subject in a library catalog, e.g. browse search for subject “Caravaggio, Michelangelo Merisi da, 1573-1610.”

I won’t say that one result is necessarily *better* than the other, but each is different and useful. One however, is definitely more “unbiased and ethical” and has the advantage of allowing searchers to not worry about some unscrupulous cataloger trying to get as many dupes as possible out there to open their wallets or to twist people’s minds in some way, which happens all the time in Google, although very few people realize it. On the other hand, it has the normal problems of anything created by humans, and of course, it is unrealistic to expect people to do browse searches in this way any longer.

What we are providing is useful and I believe, vital. It doesn’t mean the other ways are no good, but somehow we need to figure how to bring out the power of each.