RDA-L Re: Main Entry Punctuation

Posting to RDA-L

On 12/01/2015 12.51, Bernhard Eversberg wrote:
Am 12.01.2015 03:01, schrieb Ian Fairclough:

We are dealing with bibliographic data, in an environment of linked data. These elements of style have been retained from previous practice. In the context of linked bibliographic data the comma, as well as the final period, are redundant and meaningless. They serve to perpetuate the status quo, in terms of the expectations of catalogers plus any others who have been trained to expect them.

Exactly. More to the point, it is previous USMARC practice. And for all I know, numerous ILSs still expect the punctuation or are unable to supply it to create correctly formatted displays. So what else are catalogers to do but stick the the practice they’ve been brought up with? Outside USMARCistan, systems have always been used to supply all punctuation by themselves. UKMARC therefore didn’t dictate its input, and German systems neither.

Since we are heading–willy nilly–into linked data, we need to keep in mind that it is the *link* and not so much the data that is important. Catalogers haven’t started adding links yet (for some reason that escapes me) and are still focusing on textual strings where periods and commas are important. With linked data, the data lies at the end of the link and that data can be experienced in all kinds of ways. For instance, if catalogers added the VIAF link for “Karl May,” they would include a link such as this: http://viaf.org/viaf/24605183 The display of the data could then be any, or all of the forms found there, or it could actually be none of these forms because VIAF includes a link to Worldcat Identities, and it could display in some way from the data found there.

But it doesn’t stop even at that point. There is a link from the Worldcat Identities record to Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Karl_May (which can then be automatically translated into a dbpedia link: http://dbpedia.org/page/Karl_May) and there are all kinds of other links there. All of those links are not by catalogers or other librarians at all.

The information found there can interoperate in any number of ways, for instance, the searcher may not see a form or Karl May’s name, but they may see a photo of him, or even an image of a bunch of his books (http://www.cowboysindians.com/images/1999/09/km_books.jpg), and another a textual display of his name in Hebrew.

I am sure that some of these methods will be better and others will be worse–but what is important for catalogers is: catalogers will have very little control, and probably not any control at all, over what the users will see and experience. As long as the URI remains more or less the same, the display of the data can vary enormously.

This is too much for me to really imagine how this will work in reality, or whether it will provide anything that is useful or even coherent, but definitely, we are discussing a radically new world. And somehow, catalogers will have to find a way to fit in.