On Wed, 19 Nov 2008, Amy H. Turner Wrote:
>> I'd like to propose that we retain, at least in spirit, 5 words ... DO
>> NOT STRAIN FOR CONSISTENCY.
That would seem to undercut the basic purpose of any codification, which
is to implement consistency. Perhaps "DO NOT STRAIN" alone would be the
best approach, albeit even more vague and arbitrary.
>> Many of the RI's ... try to strike a balance between exact application
>> of a standard and efficiency.
If a standard can be applied consistently, it is efficient to apply
it. If a standard cannot be applied efficiently, it should be either
rewritten or abandoned. When only the "bottom line" is the measure of
efficiency, then the standards become mere ideas ("Only obey the speed
limit if it is efficient to do so at any given time and place").
>> "Balance" implies flexibility, but there is a tendency to ask for
>> guidance on EXACTLY how to balance.
The problem may be more a question of what to balance and of trying to
balance different issues with one another, e.g., politics ("Stay
inconsistent or vague enough to please everyone and remain affordable")
with practice ("Set standards to develop consistency").
>> Do we need to keep debating these marginal cases, or can we just say
>> "if it is close to the line, go either way, and do not strain for
The debates seem to be over what the standards are ("disambiguation" of
their meanings) and how they can be worded to be universally understood
(not necessarily accepted or followed). Unfortunately, this all seems to
take place in an environment of rigid personal "belief" of what is meant
and should be meant, rather than in a context of collaborative resolution.
Following on that, and due to the numerous contexts in which "standards"
are applied, perhaps there can be no agreements, and thus no standards.
On Wed, 19 Nov 2008, Duncan Irvine wrote:
> While I appreciate the indefatiguable enthusiasm of cataloguing's
Well, it is more fun than cataloging itself ... (as is critical thinking
and questioning authority).
> cataloguing, and the rules governing it, are evolving entities,
> reflecting the changing world in which we all have to operate.
But is the world changing in an acceptably "efficient" direction or in a
less "organized" direction? Perhaps there would be fewer debates in
cataloging if universally applicable "federated" access to data and
knowledge were considered more important than the profit motive and
> The counsel of perfection syndrome is dangerous, illusory and
> essentially unattainable--that which is practicable is the best we can
> ever do.
And since "practicality" varies from individual to individual and
organization to organization (e.g., consider the same debate in the
context of personal freedoms vs. relief from fear and how it takes place),
no "standards" that are not self-defeatingly vague can probably be written
without being considered irritatingly absolute. The old addage "Rules are
made to be broken" will always prevail. Essential or unfortunate?
John G. Marr
Univ. of New Mexico
Albuquerque, NM 87131
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