27 June 2008

confluence, RDA, Big Heads

It may be a wonderful confluence of cataloging trends. At this morning's Big Heads, there was a report from John Attig about RDA development and implementation as well as a discussion of the LC response to the report of the Working Group on the Future of Bibliographic Control and on the results of a survey on vendor records. At two or three points, the concept of embryonic bibliographic records came up. The embryo is not the important aspect; the evolution of that record and the accretion of additional access is what makes the concept potentially revolutionary.

RDA is different from AACR2 in discussing the nature and form of an element more than how the elements fit together. While that can be frustrating for us catalogers who have been at it for a while, it can also be freeing. Since the implementation of ISBD in the mid-1970s, we have thought of a bib record as having a character that could be marked as pre-ISBD, ISBD, or AACR. As we move into RDA, it may be more profitable to think of elements as RDA but not worth it to try to code a record as RDA.

It seems to me this really fits with the idea of a record that accretes information. The record might start out as the barest description but adds descriptive elements, subject headings, call numbers, etc as it is used by various catalogers and other record builders. As the book is used, the record might also grow with social tags, reviews, relationships, pictures of the bookjacket, sample text, full text links, whatever. Sounds a bit like Amazon or Flickr.

It will be interesting to see how this mindframe works itself out in the MARBI discussions of RDA and MARC, perhaps especially how the FRBR Group 1 entities play out.

20 June 2008

Pinocchio's Library at Daneyal Mahmood

Peter Belyi
Pinocchio's Library

19 June - 31 July 2008
opening reception:
Thursday | 19 June | 6-8 PM

511 WEST 25 ST, 3FL
phone: 212 675 2966
Tues.-Sat. 11am to 6pm

Daneyal Mahmood Gallery presents Pinocchio's Library. Modellatura, which generally included an ideal vision of the future, was an extremely popular genre during the 1920s, an age of grand utopias. Not only did artists invest time and energy in creating models of future cities, but conceived their own artworks as indicators for potential technical projects. Peter Belyi's "memorial modelling," however, casts its gaze into the past, to the 1960s and 1970s, a period that saw the existence of one of the last utopian expressions of our era. The artist's intent is to use this "new" genre of representation to search for one of the paradigms of humanity: hope in the future produced by disillusionment with the past.

The wooden puppet Pinocchio is the project's protagonist, incarnating the figure of an architect obsessed with grandiose projects through which he hopes to transform the world, as well as an indissoluble deposit of utopian ideology present in each and every one of us. Like its hero, Pinocchio's Library is made of wood, and its books cannot be opened. They are solid marker stones of useless knowledge, inaccessible and impossible to consult ever again. That which was once a source of knowledge has been transformed into an indissoluble deposit of utopian knowledge, a memorial to utopia itself. And yet Pinocchio's Library is rife with the hopes of each one of us and above all, with the fact that one day the wooden puppet will be transformed into a real child.

Peter Belyi was born in 1971 in Leningrad (today St. Petersburg), where he continues to live and work. His principal solo shows include: La Biblioteca di Pinocchio, Pack Gallery, Milan (2008); Unnecessary Alphabet, Anna Frants Space Gallery, New York, (2007); Danger Zone, Daneyal Mahmood Gallery, New York, (2007); Lenproekt, State Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg, Russia (2007), SH854, Guelman Gallery, Moscow, (2005); City Heights, Gallery 27 (2001), Cork Street, London.

Belyi has also participated in numerous group shows, including: Reconstruction (2 man show), Atelier 2, Vinzavod, Moscow (2008); Celestial Mechanics, Pulkovo Observatory, St. Petersburg, (2007); Something About Power (2 man show), 2nd Moscow Biennale, Russia (2007); Border Territory, Mars Gallery, 2nd Moscow Biennale, Russia (2007); Architecture Ad Marginum, State Russian Museum, St. Petersburg, Russia (2007); Modus R, Art Basel Miami Beach, Miami, (2006); Post Modellismus, Krinzinger Progekte Galerie, Vienna, (2005). His artwork has been included in the permanent collections of: The Margulies Collection, Miami; the Russian State Museum, St Petersburg, Russia; Victoria & Albert Museum, London; Ashmolean Museum, Cambridge.

17 June 2008

the laws of the jungle

Weinberger's laws of the jungle
Everything is miscellaneous

The four new strategic principles:
Filter on the way out, not on the way in.
Put each leaf on as many branches as possible.
Everything is metadata and everything can be a label.

In the miscellaneous order, the only distinction between metadata and data is that metadata is what you already know and data is what you're trying to find out.
Give up control.

The "laws of the jungle" chapter (p. 84-106) includes an interesting analysis of the Art & Architecture Thesaurus.


Murtha Baca and I co-wrote a chapter on FRBR for cultural objects in Arlene Taylor's book Understanding FRBR. We lost track, in a good way, of who originated which words. I remember some of the words and definitely the examples but the flow of the article became OURS, not hers or mine. There's an article in the Times from June 10th on the Rolex program to pair developing artists with masters. Alejandro Cesarco and John Baldessari are one of the pairs; Cesarco has long been a favorite, for his made-up indexes and other wordy art. Baldessari has of course been doing conceptual stuff with words for years and years. In the article, Cesarco is quoted thus:

The most gratifying thing about this program was working together with him on a work that became a synthesis of our practices. It's not recognizable who did what, which is what's nice about collaborating, because you are trying to work outside your comfort zone and pushing your collaborator to work outside his.

Of course, that makes the metadata more difficult but then Leonardo and Verrocchio have been making that hard for art historians for centuries.

When I went to go fetch a link for John Baldessari, I found his "JB_new" page and it has a groovy graphic tree. Oh my gosh, it's Baldessari's birthday!

16 June 2008

everything is platonic

I've started reading Everything is miscellaneous by David Weinberger, thanks to Johanna Bauman who suggested it some time ago and again at the VRA chapter meeting last week. The subtitle is "the power of the new digital disorder." Weinberger writes about how we categorize things: we as catalogers, we as information seekers; how the digital world allows us (or Amazon or Flickr or whatever) to dis-connect and re-connect bits of information based on needs of the moment; how all together we inform each other (if inform is the right verb); how connections grow and morph. Here's just a teaser from page 62:

"Dewey liked the precision, predictability, and uniqueness of decimal numbers, Amazon throws books in front of your eyes with abandon. Compared to the neat row of numbered volumes on the shelf of the library, Amazon is a carnival of books, where even the orderly rows of the marching band are interrupted by a weaving conga line of suggestions."

A few pages further on, he's talking about "lumps and splits" and lists. Lumps for when you put things in the same basket, splits when you put them in different baskets. He talks about maps, nests, and trees, and Plato and Aristotle. When he's talking about Plato, he exemplifies Plato's ideal by talking about the 501st elephant which is more real than the herd of 500 because it represents Elephant. It sounded rather like Work in FRBR: intangible, eternal, ideal. Oy.

07 June 2008

would ben be proud?

Tuesday's N.Y. Times had an article about the Mercantile Library moving from its longtime home in Midtown Manhattan. There's a picture of the top of the card catalog with a bust of Benjamin Franklin. The caption reads "Noreen Tomassi, executive director of the Mercantile Library, among the portraits and paintings that will move to a new location, as will a bust of Benjamin Franklin, a noted librarian." True, he did some statesmenlike and inventive things but what a librarian!?

nature & culture

Christie and I finally got over to the Fulton Street waterfront to see the Telectroscope. It's pretty fantastic, this 19th-century optical connection between the New York City and London. But nature was up to her tricks: thick fog over the East River, obscuring the shoreline on the NYC side of the river. It was beautiful, hard to take your eyes off it. We waved to the Brits, giggled at the wonder of it, then walked up through Brooklyn Heights to a bit of breakfast at Teresa's. Now inside contemplating "work and image."