ACAT Personal info in authority records

On 8/5/2015 8:59 PM, John Gordon Marr wrote:
> That is a definite problem that everyone should be concerned with. > While, with some effort, other qualifiers (e.g. “House painter”) can > be discovered, those can be problematic as well (e.g. with life-style > changes). I once suggested a solution that would be understandable to > everyone, which would be “impersonal” qualifiers, such as “Smith, > John, 312”, “Smith, John, 313”, etc. or some other simple referent.

With linked data, once the headings are linked, there will no longer be an “authorized form” of someone’s name that catalogers have been used to–it will be a qualitatively different experience for everyone. When the information is in RDF and in a compatible format, any and all information related to any person can display. If there are multiple possible results, they can also display in all kinds of ways.

How can this work in reality? First, we can see how Google does it, but they do it in a limited fashion. There are two equally famous people with the name “Jane Seymour”: the actress and one of the wives of Henry VIII. When we search for Jane Seymour in Google, we see

In the right column (which is made using linked data), I see Jane Seymour the actress there are extracts from Wikipedia, a list of her movies, etc. If I scroll down to the end of the actress I find a link for Jane Seymour, which describes her as a wife of Henry plus an image. If I were in Britain or the Google algorithm had gleaned something from my email and browsing habits, it may have chosen to place Jane Seymour, Henry’s wife above the actress. I don’t know. Actually, based on what I remember of my browsing history, email and so on, I was kind of surprised to see the actress come up first. Maybe Google knows something about me that I don’t.

The NAF has several Jane Seymours and these multiple results could display in all kinds of ways. Wikipedia has a disambiguation page

Library catalog tools using linked data will be able to do these same things and people will expect it: to add photos if they exist, display variant names, a short list of publications, biographical info from another linked site, etc.

We can see a rather nice example of how it could work in a more scholarly fashion in a second project, Microsoft Academic Search, which I think is rather elegant. A search for the common name “David Johnson” gives a listing of David Johnsons at the top, click “More”, and if you do a “mouse over” we see their number of publications and their field of study. This could be improved by showing other information as well.

When we choose one David Johnson, we find all kinds of information: co-authors, keywords, and even graphical analysis.
I don’t know if this information is available in linked open data or not, but if it were, libraries could use it. By the way, it looks like anybody can edit this information. And of course, there are other tools like this, such as LinkedIn and Mendeley.

The idea of an “authorized form” with catalogers being in complete control of their catalogs will become things of the past. As I wrote in a previous posting, I don’t know what will happen when somebody clicks on one of these links, and you don’t even have to click on anything to have it work!

This is the future of the profession and what should be discussed. There are good and bad points, as I have been at pains to point out.

James Weinheimer
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