On Mon, Oct 25, 2010 at 9:32 PM, Alexander Johannesen <
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> Lots of people around the library world infra-structure will think
> that since your data is now in XML it has taken some important step
> towards being inter-operable with the rest of the world, that library
> data now is part of the real world in *any* meaningful way, but this
> is simply demonstrably deceivingly not true.
Here, I think you're guilty of radically underestimating "lots of people
around the library world." No one thinks MARC is a good solution to our
modern problems, and no one who actually knows what MARC is has trouble
understanding MARC-XML as an XML serialization of the same old data --
certainly not anyone capable of meaningful contribution to work on an
You seem to presuppose that there's an enormous pent-up energy poised to
sweep in changes to an obviously-better data format, and that the existence
of MARC-XML somehow defuses all that energy. The truth is that a high
percentage of people that work with MARC data actively think about (or
curse) things that are wrong with it and gobs and gobs of ridiculously-smart
people work on a variety of alternate solutions (not the least of which is
RDA) and get their organizations to spend significant money to do so. The
problem we're dealing with is *hard*. Mind-numbingly hard.
The library world has several generations of infrastructure built around
MARC (by which I mean AACR2), and devising data structures and standards
that are a big enough improvement over MARC to warrant replacing all
that infrastructure is an engineering and political nightmare. I'm happy to
take potshots at the RDA stuff from the sidelines, but I never forget that
I'm on the sidelines, and that the people active in the game are among the
best and brightest we have to offer, working on a problem that invariably
seems more intractable the deeper in you go.
If you think MARC-XML is some sort of an actual problem, and that people
just need to be shouted at to realize that and do something about it, then,
well, I think you're just plain wrong.
Library Systems Programmer
University of Michigan Library