Thanks very  much for this detailed reply. 

In my own website I use another Wired quote, which may be apt here: 

Reality is stubborn and troublesome and often un-Googleable.
		David Samuels, Wired, May, 2008 (p. 155)



Joel Bresler, Publisher
250 E. Emerson Road
Lexington, MA 02420
United States

1-781-862-4104 (Telephone & FAX)
[log in to unmask]

-----Original Message-----
From: Association for Recorded Sound Discussion List [mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of Michael Biel
Sent: Tuesday, December 15, 2009 2:28 PM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] Wired on the need for a single comprehensive music database

By reinventing the wheel I mean that the geeks at Wired seem to think
that there have never been any listings of recordings before on-line
music services, and that they probably have never heard the word
discography or have ever seen one.  The line about making a list of
songs and using a "unique identifier" is what really set me off.  "Music
services already apply their own unique identifiers to songs in their
catalogs" and that these geeks think that unifying these numbers is THE
way to go, is frightening.  The records already have their own unique
identifiers -- they are the matrix numbers and the company catalog
numbers, not numbers made up by the music services.  I also doubt that
they realize that there were recordings before CDs.  I also wonder if
they know that before computers there were things known as books.  And
while most of the great discographies of the world are not on databases
that can be seen on computer screens, I sometimes find it much easier to
do research with eight or ten discographies spread out open on a table
then having to click from window to window to window on a computer

I agree that Rigler-Deutsch is a rats nets, because although my
signature is on the title page of the final report (I just happened to
be ARSC president when it was completed -- I didn't have anything
substantial to do with compiling it) I couldn't convince the librarians
of the AAA who controlled the RDRI, that record collectors without
library science degrees might be capable of cleaning up the files
created by the minimally trained data entry personnel.  I had proposed
distributing the label films to expert collectors who could clean up the
computer entries, but they didn't think that people who have spent their
entire lives with records could do things like "attempt a controlled
vocabulary of songs, artists" etc.  Yet that is what collectors have
done for more years than there have been library catalogs of records.  I
had a group of experienced collectors just salivating at the thought of
getting a couple of films for a year or so and correcting the database
-- for free, I might add -- but there was an aversion among the
professionals to let the amateurs correct their work.  

The wheel was already invented by Brian Rust, Tom Lord, John Bruninx,
Charles Delauney, Michel Ruppli, Frank Andrews, Pekka Gronow, Tim
Brooks, Ross Laird, Julian Morton Moses, Carl Kendzioria, Walt Allen,
George Blacker, Malcolm Rockwell, Allen Koenigsburg, Steve Barr, Robert
Dixon, John Godrich, Tony Russel,  Bill Moran, Ted Fagen, John Bolig,
Reiner Lotz, and yes, Dick Spotswood among many, many others.  And I
might add that most of these names are people who were from the
collectors community.  Tom Lord's Jazz Discography is available on line
or CD-Rom, and Rockwell's and some of Ruppli's are on CD-Rom.  There are
all sorts of on-line discography projects including the Victor Project,
Brian,, national discography projects in Sweden and
several other countries, and many others that slip my mind right now. 
(Steve Barr can probably name them all.) 

There had been an ARSC computerized project about 10 years ago that fell
through, utilizing a program which made data entry unified and was going
to be based on existing discographies like those mentioned above.  It is
when "outsiders" like the Wired geeks recommend starting over with the
sources being the on-line music service lists without knowing what has
already been compiled by experts, that is most problematic. 

Mike Biel  [log in to unmask]  

-------- Original Message --------

From: Joel Bresler <[log in to unmask]>

Hi, Mike, could you please amplify a bit on your answer? I thought the
Wired article was thought provoking. 

WorldCat, perhaps the largest repository of discographic information, is
not a database. It grows willy nilly, and there is no attempt at a
controlled vocabulary of songs, artists, and so forth. No tying together
of 78s with their re-release on LP, CD, etc. The Rigler-Deutsch database
is a worthy try, but the contents are a rats nest. Dick Spottswood's
wonderful EMOR is in print form only, and is not a database per se. 

If they are talking about reinventing the wheel, please point us to the


Joel Bresler, Publisher

-----Original Message-----
From:  Michael Biel
Reinventing the wheel. What is needed is a knowledge of DISCOGRAPHY
among these computer geeks who think that nothing has happened outside
their little world.

Mike Biel [log in to unmask]

-------- Original Message --------

From: "Schooley, John" <[log in to unmask]>

4 Ways One Big Database Would Help Music Fans, Industry

"The solution to this and other problems dogging the music industry
could be forehead-slappingly simple: one big, free, public database
with, at the very least, song titles in one column and unique
identifiers in another. When online and mobile music services build
their own content databases out of the labels' catalogs, they would have
incentives to use the same numbers to identify each song, for the
reasons laid out below. Music services already apply their own unique
identifiers to songs in their catalogs, so the use of numbers is not the
issue - they just need to be the same numbers.

This database would have to be free, readily available and totally
transparent, visible to music fans and industry people alike, because
the barrier to entry for startups to use the system would have to be
zero. Open source software making use of the data set, available on the
same website, might encourage services to use the numbers."
No virus found in this incoming message.
Checked by AVG - 
Version: 8.5.427 / Virus Database: 270.14.108/2565 - Release Date: 12/15/09 19:58:00