Re: [NGC4LIB] Google Ngram Results

Posting to NGC4LIB

On 14/03/2013 00:14, john g marr wrote:

We should do NOTHING that does NOT progress toward fixing the broken society, especially suggesting that fixing it is either too difficult, must be done less energetically than taking it apart, or is not our responsibility. There is no higher goal, particularly when pushiness and self-obsession are becoming ascendant.

Well, lots of people have been complaining about their “broken societies” from the earliest days of writing and we have muddled through. My own personal view is that our societies will get more broken before anybody wants to really try and fix them, but that is a painful topic.

I want to try to limit myself to trying to get catalogers just to recognize that the tool they have spent their entire careers building is broken. That includes me! It is not easy. It wasn’t easy for me. Many refuse to believe it and I understand, but brow-beating people just makes them angry and even more resistant. Still, if catalogers do not want to recognize how the public relates to their catalogs, it is very difficult to find a way out of the morass. The pro-RDA people, I think, are finally recognizing that RDA is no solution and have been very reticent to go public with the changes, because the changes will be seen as incredibly silly to the public and will make precisely zero difference to people, other than banishing the New Testament and Old Testament, which I can imagine would make some groups very angry if they find out.

FRBR may be considered more useful, but only because people say that we can enter “Linked Data” then. First, we don’t need FRBR to get into linked data, but more important, I think there has been very little thought about the real people who we expect to discover all of this wonderful new knowledge by manipulating the data from our catalog records. How useful will it be for someone interested in the history of Roman theater or how the free market is supposed to work, to manipulate the paging, or the general notes, or any of it? Nobody wants to reply to that. And of course, no research is being done to find out what impact any of this will have on the public. I may be completely wrong and the public is just chomping at the bit to begin manipulating the information in our catalog records, but I doubt it. I think no research is being done because nobody wants to know.

Take the Google Ngram project as an example. How could our catalog data improve it? I think it could, but how? By limiting to certain conceptual groups (subject areas), authors and perhaps titles would be good (that is, our headings) but manipulating it by the paging, or notes or series? Probably the most useful would be edition but that means too many things to too many different communities; maybe the publication information, but even that is a real stretch. Again, I shall grant that something might be useful, but somebody should do at least some little bit of research to find out if somebody wants it before just assuming that people will want our information once it is “turned into” data. I don’t think that is the information people want from our catalogs. People want something else.

They just want the catalogs to work again, even though most people don’t even understand what that means, or have completely forgotten.