Re: proposal for subjects in subject tree

Ed Krol <> Wed, 09 December 1992 17:52 UTC

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Date: Wed, 9 Dec 1992 10:17:06 -0600
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From: Ed Krol <>
Subject: Re: proposal for subjects in subject tree

Just a couple of comments after recovering from the eyestrain
of reading this long winded message :-):

>Point 2: Getting it right vs. Getting it now
>We techies need to realize that the community that the library serves are
>hungry for something right now, not tomorrow or the day after. The users
>have an idea of what's out there and they want to know how to find what
>they are looking for. This of course is also true of the Internet
>environment.  However, the traditional Internet user was a lot more
>likely to put up with the indignities of the FTP client interface and the
>word of mouth method of information dissemination than your average high
>school student is today.

This is really true.  When I was doing the resource catalog for my book
I was really worried because I was essentially doing cataloging and
1. did not want to reinvent the wheel and 2. was afraid not being a 
librarian there would be a backlash against whatever I did if it weren't
standard enough.  So, I had a meeting with 4 faculty from our school of
Library and Information Science.  Essentially what they said is we need
this and need it bad.  Whatever you do will be better than what we have
now so quit meeting with us and do it.

>It is often useful to adopt a scheme already in existence however, I
>contend that it is not worth the effort to radically warp a pre-existing
>system to your own use if it does not naturally do so. It is important
>that your primary user base be comfortable with the system you use. If
>other communities feel that it would be useful for them to have access to
>your system, but they work under a different scheme then it is in their
>interest to perform the conversion.
>Each of us as individuals or members of a community will construct our
>own paradigm. I believe that any given community will create and use
>their own world view. Part of our job is to provide the user with a
>paradigm that is both comfortable and easy for them to use. For example,
>many of the thousands of gopher users of the world have become accustomed
>to interacting at the information services on the Internet in the "gopher
>way". Much of this information is native to the gopher system itself,
>however there are also parts of the system which reside in other areas of
>the infostructure: one can do WAIS and archie searches without ever
>knowing that the information has been imported from a completely
>different system. The work with URI's et al.  are the first pass at
>facilitating such inter-operability.
This is still a little fuzzy but I'll give it a try anyway.  I think the
problem here is that the cost of developing and maintaining an
information system or paradigm is quite high.  There is also a lot of 
inertia in one.  E.g. I could argue that it is worthless to teach every
gradeschool student how dewey decimal works because once they leave school
they would likely never use it again, why not teach them some other scheme.
Consider the cost of remarking and recataloging all the books in K-12 libraries.
Therefore, communities try to shoehorn their needs into existing systems.
Then there is a set of lobbying which goes on.  Rather than developing their
own system they lobby the owner of an existing system to change to make it
useful to a larger community.  I think there will be different tools 
biased towards various communities, but the infostructure will be fairly
standardized.  (This may be what you said but I wasn't sure)

Well thats probably more than .02 more like .05.