Posting to RDA-L
On 04/25/2011 05:56 PM, Jonathan Rochkind wrote:
If you maintain the “preferred display form” as your _identifier_, then whenever the preferred display form changes, all those links will need to be changed.
This is why contemporary computer-era identifier practice does NOT use “preferred display form” as an identifier. Because preferred display forms change, but identifiers ought not to. The identifier should be a _persistent_ link into your database for the identified record.
So long as the link from your database links unambiguously to the resource you want to link to, that is all that matters. There are different ways of allowing that. This function is most efficiently handled by the database you are linking into, instead of the single database expecting everybody in the world to change their own databases to add their URIs. For example, I could add a link for the NAF form of Leo Tolstoy to dbpedia to interoperate with it. If they had a special search for exact NAF form, like in the VIAF, it would definitely be unambiguous.
My point is: this is something that is achievable. Probably through a relatively simple API, it could be implemented in every catalog pretty easily. There is just no hope that each catalog will add URIs within any reasonable amount of time.
Certainly, if we were creating things from scratch, we could redo everything that would be better for us (there is no doubt in my mind that future information specialists/catalogers 80 years from now will be complaining about whatever we make), but you must play the cards you are dealt and be creative with what you have. Perhaps it wouldn’t be perfect, or maybe it would, I don’t know, but in any case, it would be vastly better than what we have now and people could start discovering and using our records in new ways.