What I've been seeing, besides excessive simplification, is just a general lack of arguments supporting the restriction in the Agent class.  Why must an agent be a human person or a collection of human persons?  What purpose is served by this restriction?  If adding more attributes pertaining to reality and species-and qualifications to relationships to distinguish them as actual or purported-is not satisfactory, why?

Kevin M. Randall
Principal Serials Cataloger
Northwestern University Libraries
Northwestern University<>
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Proudly wearing the sensible shoes since 1978!

From: Program for Cooperative Cataloging [mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of Ted P Gemberling
Sent: Tuesday, April 05, 2016 5:39 PM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: [PCCLIST] Excessive simplification / was: FRBR-LRM: "agent" as an entity

Here are some belated comments on these issues. Sorry to be so late. I realize this may not be the best forum for posting comments at this late date.

I agree with Bob that there can be excessive simplification in conceptual models, and I think FRBR-LRM has several.

In the message below, Bob says "I'm not sure of the utility of introducing the idea of 'capable of' into an entity definition." Is an entity an "agent" before he/she/it is an agent? I don't think so. Later in the discussions, a commenter pointed out that FRBR-LRM says: "An arbitrary sequence of signs is not a nomen until it is assigned to be an appellation for something in some context" (p. 21). Why is the case different with "agents"? I question that anything is really gained by creating this super class besides the perceived elegance of the model.

I would go further and question res as an entity. FRSAD achieved some real insight by simplifying subjects into one entity Thema, and apparently the drafters of FRBR-LRM have decided to go one step further: since most authorized access points can be subjects, why not say that the superclass of all bibliographically relevant entities is the same as subjects? Thema then becomes superfluous. But it's not exactly true that all AAP's can be subjects. We know that at least in LC cataloging, Ceylon can't be a subject heading for Sri Lanka. I suppose one could argue that is only a particular "implementation" and that Ceylon could be a good subject heading in principle. But something is only a subject when it is a subject. I would retain Thema. It is a way to express the insight that most things (res) can be subjects but are not inherently subjects.

Heidrun and Thomas discussed the rather unclear statement on p. 49: "In general, the appellation relationship would be many-to-many; however, in the context of a particular library system, the intention is that each nomen is used in an unambiguous sense by being associated with a single res." I am guessing that they were only trying to say that libraries want to use controlled vocabularies so they can collocate resources by the same authors or on the same subjects. But the statement was overbroad: they probably didn't mean to include things like 245 or 246 titles, which are nomens in the broad sense. Nomens but not controlled nomens.

A big part of what the authors were talking about is the arbitrariness of language. Something can be a nomen for something if we agree it is. It's not inherently a nomen. I expounded on this in my recently published C&CQ article, "FRSAD, Semiotics, and FRBR-LRM" (v. 54, no. 2, 2016). One example I used there for "non-inherentness" if not arbitrariness is the mountain on Mars that looks something like a human face. Unless you subscribe to the view that aliens built the structure to send a message to us, the mountain is not inherently a sign for the human face, but it's capable of being one once we recognize the similarity. Nomens, or what C.S. Peirce called "symbols," take this a step further by being arbitrary: they don't have to look like the thing they represent or be in close proximity to it. Robert Galbraith can be a nomen for a writer of fiction but isn't until we make it one.

Another point I brought up in my article is that not all URI's are nomens. At least URL's, I think, are not. Rather than referring to something, they take you to it.

Just my thoughts. Feel free to post this on other lists if you want, and please let me how I can continue the discussion there.

Ted Gemberling

UAB Lister Hill Library