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DATETIME  November 2010

DATETIME November 2010

Subject:

Re: Proposal to change unknown marker from 'u' to 'x'

From:

"Edward C. Zimmermann" <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Discussion of the Developing Date/Time Standards <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Tue, 23 Nov 2010 17:00:48 +0100

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (86 lines)

On Tue, 23 Nov 2010 09:22:32 -0500, Bruce D'Arcus wrote
> On Tue, Nov 23, 2010 at 9:05 AM, Simon Grant <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
> 
> Second, in my experience talking to people in the library world, I've
> more typically heard frustration about MARC; not at all hearty
> endorsements.

That's irrelevant. What is relevant is that MARC is an accepted and VERY
SUCCESSFUL standard. MARC records have survived the machines that created
them. Please don't underestimate the amount of intellectual mass that has gone
into MARC.

On Tue, 23 Nov 2010 14:05:11 +0000, Simon Grant wrote 
> There seem to me important questions of principle here. 
> 
> 1. Whose interests are we caring about? Who are the envisaged users of this
standard? If it is mainly librarians, then, fine, if librarians are happy with

Its ***among others*** librarians, archives and information professionals.


"MARC (that's "if") then fine, stick with "u". I'm not a librarian and I have"

Its irrelevant if librarians are "happy" with the MARC standards. What is
relevant is that the standards exist and are widely used. In the library world
we have '#' and 'u' being used--- '#' as space--- but not 'X'. 'X's are often,
however, used in copyrights BUT not as a wildcard or fil place but as a year
specified in Roman numerals.

"never heard of MARC. If it's not mainly librarians, but members of the wider
public,"

The wider public are--- to put in bluntly--- quite illiterate when it comes to
information management. I'm not a librarian and don't see eye-to-eye with many
of their paradigms--- coming from a different angle--- but they eat, live and
breath the issues. Some librarians, in fact, even have a good technical
background. "The wider public", by contrast, are consumers.

"then the question of "u" or"x" seems to me simple to determine. Jakob already
gave good examples of the use of "x". To me, "x" is more intuitive."

How is it "intuitive"? Most textbooks, I think, use nnn where n is a
non-negative integer to represent numbers 000 through 999. Why not argue for
'n' instead of 'u' and not 'x'? To discuss "intuitiveness" is a dead-end
street. What we should be discussing is applications and implications.

Alone the widespread use of Roman Numerals in copyright date formats should be
a K.O. issue: X being a number as in MMX (2010 in Arabic).

"greed, intuition is relative to people's experience. But are we going to
propose a standard based on the intuitions of a small set of people, or on
some more representative sampling of the intended users?"

But who are the intended "users"? Please don't ever confuse "consumers" with
users.

"In principle it wouldn't be difficult to do a survey of a selection of people
who fall into the categories of intended users of the specification."

Users, consumers or peers?

"2. What are we trying to do, anyway? It's easy to lose sight of this kind of
big question, when considering minor details. I was thinking about this with
reference to the calendar question. The answer I would give (not assuming
anyone else would concur) would be something like "we are trying to formulate
a standard specification for ways of representing dates and times in ways that
are, or have been, common; in formats that have as clear as possible a
relationship with the formats originally used" (i.e. e.g. not involving
complex calculation, but possibly involving simple translation)"

And date formats using X (as 10s) do exist and are well established.

Do we really want to use something that increases the ambiguity of things?
Other than to satisfy someone's whim what does 'X' in this application
deliver? It neither improves data quality nor simplifies our parsers. We would
loose a few things and gain really nothing! 

--

 Edward C. Zimmermann, NONMONOTONIC LAB 
 Basis Systeme netzwerk, Munich Ges. des buergerl. Rechts 
 Office Leo (R&D): 
  Leopoldstrasse 53-55, D-80802 Munich, 
  Federal Republic of Germany 
 Umsatz-St-ID: DE130492967

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