Re: FRBR and classes ('frbr:Works in the age of mechanical reproduction'...)

On Mon, Mar 21, 2011 at 10:19 AM, Tillett, Barbara <> wrote:

> Thinking of FRBR as "over-engineered" perhaps mistakenly focuses on casual
> readers and on inventory management issues.
> From the sidelines, I think the main criticism is not leveled so much at
FRBR as it is at FRBRer and this is mostly based on the fact that, for the
vast majority of cases, we're going to have to work with data that simply
does not fit effectively or efficiently into the rigidity that FRBRer (and,
by extension, RDA).  Forget 80/20 rules, we're talking 95/5 rules (at the
most optimistic) and any organization is going to have to weigh how much
they're going to invest in developing infrastructure that is inefficient and
suboptimal for more than 9 out of every 10 resources.

> We should keep the above point focus, and recall that our main job is user
> needs and not making IT people's jobs easier. IT is supposed to respond to
> requirements and
> *not* assume that their limits and system predilections are ours. RDF is
> primarily an IT-level invention that *assumes* things about high-level
> resource description. We are demonstrating that some of their assumptions
> are insufficient to what we can demonstrate to be the case.

Odd use of finger pointing here.  I don't think IT people are complaining
that their jobs should be made easier.  The issue is that the data at hand
does not fit very well into this model and there has been no guidance
whatsoever to deal with that.  IT people aren't (generally) catalogers; that
doesn't mean they aren't just as invested in creating the best solution to
the problems.  They cannot, however, be expected to be given a big pile of
legacy data, with no direction, and be expected to make the best use of it.
On the flip side, however, they probably *do* have the best understanding of
the capabilities and limitations of the current state of technology and how
to make the best use of it.

Can you give some examples where "RDF is primarily an IT-level invention
that *assumes* things about high-level resource description"?

At some point, we cannot simply blame other communities for not moving
forward.  The future of this stuff *absolutely* has to involve information
professionals from all aspects of the community: catalogers, technologists,
researchers, implementers, etc.  There will have to be compromise and
understanding, from all directions -  that is, *NO* community's assumptions
should go unchallenged.

I think one of the disconnects we're seeing is that majority linked data
projects involving bibliographic data are trying to address use cases which
may or may not have anything to do the goals of FRBR or RDA.  Does that make
them any less legitimate?  Should these projects invest heavily in the aims
of FRBR/RDA when there is no (immediate) direct benefit, business case or
community of practice to draw upon?

What I'm saying is that it is unrealistic that every bibliographic project
should march lockstep towards some (heretofore) unproven future.  If the
environment we are trying to create assumes this to be the case, we are
simply creating another, more sophisticated silo.


> Ron Murray (via Barbara Tillett)
> -----Original Message-----
> From: [] On
> Behalf Of William Waites
> Sent: Saturday, March 19, 2011 12:51 PM
> To: Dan Brickley
> Cc: public-lld
> Subject: Re: FRBR and classes ('frbr:Works in the age of mechanical
> reproduction'...)
> Dan, very much appreciate your thoughts. I have to say that in my
> experience trying to describe books in RDF, and not being a librarian, this
> seems the right approach.
> We tried using FRBR and basically found it over-engineered.
> Trying to make an application where people take books and annotate them and
> organise them into reading lists and collections, FRBR just introduces too
> much irrelevant abstraction and gets in the way. This is why we use bibo,
> which has "book in the usual sense" and could be understood in terms of what
> you have described with owl classes and punning (if you imagine an implied
> :ficciones a owl:Class).
> I also agree with Karen that this is much closer conceptually to MARC then
> WEMI. Perhaps that is as it should be. To me, again as a non-librarian, the
> rules for when something is a new work or expression or manifestation seem
> at best arbitrary or at worst simply wrong on a philosophical or artistic
> level. MARC might be ambiguous in some ways and libraries might have a bad
> habit of shoehorning data into fields where it doesn't really belong but it
> does make sense intuitively.
> So given that we have enormous amounts of data floating around in MARC or
> similar related formats probably the most directly useful thing that could
> be done with these data is to transform them into a simple, relatively flat
> RDF format (not unlike bibo) without introducing dubious abstraction. The
> data would then be directly reuseable and could be understood "in the usual
> sense" (hand wave, hand wave).
> Cheers,
> -w
> --
> William Waites                <>
>        <>
> F4B3 39BF E775 CF42 0BAB  3DF0 BE40 A6DF B06F FD45

Received on Monday, 21 March 2011 15:18:14 UTC