Re: Cringeworthy RDA terminology

Posting to Autocat

On 12/07/2012 03:46 PM, Aaron Kuperman wrote:

I find, based on a few months of actually using RDA, the “editor of compilation” is actually a good thing. It indicates the person is NOT the one the work will be cited on in bibliographies, footnotes, professor’s resumes, etc., but rather than the citations will probably be to the actually works being compiled – meaning it is important to provide access to those works (at LC this is usually done in the 505 field, relying on access to the NAF to provide access for authors who use variants of their name).

A regular “editor” who puts together a work on behalf of a committee and turns the work into a single whole is a lot closer to being a creator. It really is a different sort of function. And, the chapters of those works are not going to be cited as if they were independent publications.

RDA is very flexible, especially over the medium run, and it could easily evolve into a wide range of “editor of ……” for different formats, including some that have never been created yet using technologies that don’t exist yet. It might not be so outlandish after all.

I don’t know if it is yet valid to conclude that it is a “good thing”. Certainly it can be done and in theory, we can imagine that it could lead to something useful, but it still needs to be determined whether introducing it really is a good thing or not. History is littered with ideas that were considered to be good at first that turned out to have quite different consequences–even disasters–especially when we consider how flesh-and-blood human beings will adopt them.

I have personally studied the history of cataloging to some extent and I can guarantee there are many such stories in the history of our field. I am sure there are many on this list who could relate what happened in their own experience, but these are not the stories that tend not to get written down. Unfortunate! But understandable.

As an outlandish example, someone could say that it would be a good thing if we put jet engines on our automobiles so that we could get home from work faster. Such a statement would be absolutely true in theory of course. Yet if people just started attaching jet engines onto their cars, there would be several consequences, one of which is that many people would never get home from work at all.

So, if someone wanted to attach jet engines to automobiles, there would have to be research and testing to find out what the real consequences would be, and if people still wanted to have their jet engines, they would have to find out methods to deal with and minimize the very real consequences. That would be a lot of work.

RDA has never wanted to get its hands dirty with real-world consequences. It prefers to live in a dreamland of its own making.