I am indeed a slow learner at times, the moreso with anything regarding RDA, but I'm still wondering what the results display would look like in the environment Stephen Hearn describes. for the example of Michael Douglas, would the patron entering the search simply pull up a list of "Douglas, Michael" entries, undifferentiated until clicked on? Would some snippet of differentiating information appear in the list? If it's just a list of "Douglas, Michael" results with no further information on the results screen, how is that an improvement on what we have now? At least with birth and/or death dates a patron could make an educated guess for a film star like Douglas, but what if the search is on "Johnson, George"-- where one is searching on a very common name for a person who may well not be the son of Kirk Douglas or a cultural icon, but just an author (or director, or artist, or poet, or whatever) who is not yet widely known?
I don't deny that the information available in Stephen's scenario would be an improvement on our present bare bones approach, but how does this lead to a clearer display for patrons? Aside from occasional factual mistakes, one of the most consistent complaints I hear about IMDb's results displays are that they can be a jumble of undifferentiated names (other than the Roman numerals).
However, with mots like this: "detailed a far more seamier side of the Hollywood film industry"* it's a daily source of entertainment.
*from IMDb's bio of Kenneth Angerer.
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From: Program for Cooperative Cataloging [mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of Stephen Hearn
Sent: Tuesday, October 26, 2010 4:09 PM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: Theses name headings and privacy concerns
When I search "michael douglas" in IMDb, I get a list of identities for "Michael Douglas." They have the roman numeral designation, but more importantly, they also have information associating, say, a particular Michael Douglas with "stunts" for "Ski School". The point is that the roman numeral is just a neutral bit of differentiating data (in principle; not claiming that IMDb has done a great job of merging and differentiating persons). Once the differentiation is achieved, other facts can be called up and joined to the differentiated identity. The type of facts and the type of display could vary; it wouldn't have to follow the pattern in IMDb. That said, if I'm looking for a Michael Douglas who's credited as a stuntperson on the DVD I'm cataloging, the information IMDb provides is more useful to me than a list of birth dates would be. It's also more economical, since the facts about this Michael Douglas are already recorded in the data IMDb has for "Ski School," and don't need to be researched. A machine could come up with them, given the right underlying data structures.
I also like that all the "Michael Douglas" entries are pulled together in IMDb. In our catalog, any $c text gets alphabetized with all the middle names and initials for other Michael Douglases, making the task of browsing to find a particular Michael Douglas that much more arduous. If our indexes could collocate the $c cases, that would help, but I've given up on hoping for that. The better solution would be to make the name heading simple, make it always possible to differentiate one heading from another, and work on deriving the additional identifying information associated with the identified name for the list display. That wouldn't solve all our problems. There will always be ambiguous cases and the potential for human error. But it would be a big step forward in terms of our ability to differentiate entities and convey useful information about them.