There are clues that tell us that a 'dialog' is out of control on a listserv. Mine are (1) nested inclusion brackets and (2) "X wrote...y wrote" on successive lines. Recent discussions on the RDA listserv have tumbled deeply into that territory.
My contribution to the confusion includes the following assertions:
There is exactly one candidate for a content model that captures the relations among salient bibliographic entities that are needed to anchor library assets in the larger information sphere: FRBR. It feels roughly right to most, though it would be unwise to underestimate the time we can (ill-afford) to spend on thrashing around in the details.
There are, unhappily, several candidates for syntactical models (variously called, schemas, data models, and abstract models). These models are indifferent to what is encoded; rather, they define the permissible structures that can be encoded (think of sentence diagramming).
To choose an idiom foreign to the Web for such encoding will assure the irrelevance of library data on the open Web. Recasting MARC in XML is, in my estimation, exactly such a choice. It masquerades as Web-friendly, but the result is simply more-parseable confusion for any but cataloging geeks.
The strongest alternative candidate is the Dublin Core Abstract Model, born of a decade of wrangling about data models in the web-metadata context. Please do not confuse the data model with the element set. I am not suggesting supplanting MARC cataloging with DC.
I am asserting that embedding the library in the open Web demands:
- A coherent model of what we are describing and the relationships among those entities, and in which each entity is identified with a URI (FRBR, or something very like it).
- A carrier syntax that lives comfortably on the Web (the DC Abstract Model is my candidate)
- Rules for populating agreed structures (that at which RDA seems to be failing so earnestly).
There is some urgency at agreeing on (1) and (2) before
(3) can be achieved. The recent Library
of Congress Report on the Future of Bibliographic Control has committed the
heresy (for some) of suggesting that RDA work be suspended and FRBR be subjected to more
rigorous testing in order to increase the prospects of achieving our
Web-destiny. I'm not sure I'd go that
far, but I am convinced that our objectives will not be met through wrangling on
mailing lists. A coherent, well-funded community-grounded
research and development program is in order. All the innovative OPACs, Web-services, and
Web-2.0 social networks will avail us not if we fail to achieve this coherence.
DC mavens will recognize the 'sentence diagramming' metaphor as originating with Tom Baker
An early morning view from my rooms with a view in Seattle