On Tue, Oct 26, 2010 at 11:56 AM, Walker, David <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
> Your criticisms of MARC-XML all seem to presume that MARC-XML is the
> goal, the end point in the process.  But MARC-XML is really better seen as a
> utility, a middle step between binary MARC and the real goal, which is some
> other "useful and interesting" XML schema.

How do you create an ontological commitment in a community to an
expanding and useful set of tools and vocabularies? I think I need to
remind people of what MARCXML is supposed to be ;

"a framework for working with MARC data in a XML environment. This
framework is intended to be flexible and extensible to allow users to
work with MARC data in ways specific to their needs. The framework
itself includes many components such as schemas, stylesheets, and
software tools."

I'm not assuming MARCXML is a goal, no matter how we define that. I'm
poo-pooing MARCXML for the semantics we, as a community, have been
given by a process I suspect had goals very different from reality.
Very few people would "work with MARC through MARCXML", they would use
it to convert it, filter it, hack around it to something else
entirely. And I'm afraid lots of people are missing the point of
stubbing the developments in a community by embracing tools that
pushes a packet that inhibits innovation. So, here's the point, in
paraphrased point;

   "Here's our new thing. And we did it by simply converting all our
MARC into MARCXML that runs on a cron job every midnight, and a bit of
horrendous XSLT that's impossible to maintain."

   "But it looks just like the old thing using MARC and some templates?"

   "Ah yes, but now we're doing it in XML!"

   (Yeah, yeah, your mileage will vary)

I'm sorry if I'm overly pessimistic about the XML goodness in the
world, not for the XML itself, but the consequences of the named
entities involved. I've been a die-hard XML wonk for far too many
years, and the tools in that tool-chest doesn't automatically solve
hard problems better by wrapping stuff up in angle brackets, and -
dare I say it? - perhaps introduces a whole fleet of other problems
rarely talked about when XML is the latest buzz-word, like using a
document model on what's a traditional records model, character
encodings, whitespace issues, unicode, size and efficiencies (the
other part of this thread), and so on.

But let me also be a bit more specific about that hard semantic
problem I'm talking about;

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. By having our data in XML
has killed a few good projects where people have gone "A new project
to convert our MARC into useful XML? Aha! LoC has already solved that
problem for us."

Btw, to those who find me so obnoxious, at no point do I say it was
intentionally evil, just evil none the same. The road to hell is, as
always, paved with good intentions.

 Project Wrangler, SOA, Information Alchemist, UX, RESTafarian, Topic Maps
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