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DATETIME  November 2010

DATETIME November 2010

Subject:

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

From:

Bruce D'Arcus <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

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

Date:

Tue, 23 Nov 2010 09:22:32 -0500

Content-Type:

text/plain

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Parts/Attachments

text/plain (65 lines)

On Tue, Nov 23, 2010 at 9:05 AM, Simon Grant <[log in to unmask]> 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 MARC (that's "if") then fine, stick with "u". I'm not a librarian and I
> have never heard of MARC.

I think you identify the correct question, to which I'd reply:

First, I sure as hell hope that the focus isn't only the library
world. While my use cases have a relationship to the library world,
they are largely independent of it. Moreover, to be really blunt here,
the library world has a really bad history of developing standards
that nobody else uses.

Second, in my experience talking to people in the library world, I've
more typically heard frustration about MARC; not at all hearty
endorsements.

In sum, then, traditions from MARC should be one data point, but
should not at all drive decision-making.

> If it's not mainly librarians, but members of the
> wider public, 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. Agreed, 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? 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. So,
> surely, the argument here should continue by giving reasoned opinion about
> who the intended users are, or by reference to classes of intended users as
> set out in an agreed draft.

+1

> 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)

That's not how I'd put it: I'd say EDTF requirements are probably the
same requirements at the heart of ISO 8601 (which I only assume
involved the ability to unambiguously represent for machine
processing--including sorting and display in different
locales--certain common date representations), with some additional
use cases.

> In the present discussion of "x" v "u", it is clear enough from the
> discussion that both conventions have in fact been used. In these cases
> obviously to get a standard, ideally we need to standardise on one of these,
> because the conversion from one to another is simple transliteration. It is
> possible within a standard to have alternatives for the same thing, but I
> don't think anyone would say this was ideal. Having said that, ISO 8601 has
> many different alternative formats to represent the same date or time. So we
> could have "u" for librarians and "x" for everyone else... :-)

Bruce

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