Thursday, October 28, 2010

New Models of Metadata Throwdown

I don't usually start writings with this, but: OMG.

I (virtually) attended the first of three webinars yesterday on RDA and the new directions in metadata creation. It was entitled New Models of Metadata and Karen Coyle was the speaker. She was great, of course. I like her writing; she was also a very good speaker.
Anyways, you were probably there, too. There were 300 participants at this thing. At first, things were pretty quiet. Webex offers a chat window in their interface so you can have side conversations or ask questions or whatever. I left at the stroke of 3, when the thing ended, and people were still going on and on about the logistics of changing over from MARC to whatever we may end up with. It was insane. To me, it seemed like everyone was asking Karen herself to explain how SirsiDynix is going to implement RDA. What a ridiculous and useless thing to ask. How could she possibly have any idea?

Also, best moment, which I will recreate here in a vignette:

Attendee: So, are you saying that MARC is dead??
Karen: Yep.


So, I left the webinar feeling very angsty about my fellow attendees, because I thought we got way off track with asking questions about logistics, when Karen was there to talk about new models of metadata. I really wanted to hear her talk about the web structures and how metadata theory is changing. She did get to talk about that, but I feel like the conversation devolved a little.

Now, with the distance of a day, I get it. People are scared. Change is hard emotionally and intellectually, and we're looking at a real sea change in how we create and manage information. MARC has been the only format going for a long time, and AACRII has been the only standard going for a long time, and Karen said yesterday that we're looking at getting rid of BOTH. For many catalogers, who have never dealt with anything else (like, say, EAD and DACS), they can't really even imagine what a different standard and different format would look like. Some of the attendees were having trouble even dissociating the two, often confusing MARC for a standard. There's a lot of education to be done in order to help everyone move forward.

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"Wicked people never have time for reading. It's one of the reasons for their wickedness." —Lemony Snicket, The Penultimate Peril.