Friday, October 29, 2010

That's So 1998

"...cracking our brains to force everything into this 19th century view of the world of information called FRBR is a lot like forcing a square peg into a round hole. It just doesn't fit. So, instead of whittling the peg down, or boring out the hole, we should open our minds to new horizons because it's a big world out there."

James at First Thus posted this little snippet the other day. It made me laugh and laugh, because: TRUE.

And it got me to thinking about something I put in my notes at the Karen Coyle webinar. Namely, that FRBR's structure doesn't jive with how we see the "future" of information relationships. Everyone is talking about how information should be a 'web', with everything having the same importance and availability. FRBR doesn't do that, though. From the models I've seen of FRBR, it seems that the relationships only flow one way. Instead of subjects having potentially the same importance as a book itself, subjects are always subservient to bibliographic data. Afterthoughts, add-ons. I know that it's been said that people are working on this aspect of FRBR, presumably to change it, but to me that seems to be a basic building block of how FRBR treats information.

FRBR *is* kind of 19th century. Or 20th century even. I mean, it's a really recent concept that information can reside outside a physical object. When FRBR was published (and let's keep in mind that FRBR was in the works for several years before 1998), the idea that you would put information on the web and nowhere more "permanent" was still nascent. Why would anyone do such a thing? If you had a big idea, why would you just put it out into the ether and not try to get it published, recorded, or printed? Today, that doesn't sound ludicrous at all. But it was only twelve years ago.

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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.