Hmmm.  Well, it seems to me it depends on our purpose. In my paper, I wrote about the representation of what I called "complex realities" - it seems this is a good example of that. My question was: how much of these complex realities do we want to represent?

So, I think the answer depends on the extent to which we believe the representation of this particular complex reality matters to our users. My take is: users will likely search on Racter as the author of Policeman's Beard (see ISBN description), and Miss Piggy as the author of her books, hence we must be able to represent this situation as such. Did anyone mention spirit communications? :)

How we represent non-human entities, I won't take a stand on, but I believe we must make it possible for non-human entities to do things like create, illustrate, author in our model.

Whether we need to make explicit that we know that Racter, et al. are non-human, is something the community needs to decide. To what extent do we need, for the sake of our users, to convey that a particular agent is not human? What user needs does this serve? To what extent would users be confused, or their use of a catalog hindered by not making this distinction? I don't have answers to those questions. I see the value in simplicity, and I see the value of making a distinction, both.


From: Program for Cooperative Cataloging [mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of Ted P Gemberling
Sent: Wednesday, April 6, 2016 5:03 PM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: [PCCLIST] Excessive simplification / was: FRBR-LRM: "agent" as an entity

So would you say that Racter is a person or would you add another category of agents like "Non-Human Agents"?

I suppose Racter could be understood to fit the definition of person I offered, an "individual with a name." There are those funny commercials with the IBM computer Watson talking to Bob Dylan and others. There is currently a subject heading for Watson (Computer). It is coded not for name use.

Racter is treated as a 100 on OCLC # 878088393 and 700 on # 311319022. The second one also gives William Chamberlain, apparently the programmer, equal billing.

Ted Gemberling

From: Program for Cooperative Cataloging [mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of Allyson Carlyle
Sent: Wednesday, April 06, 2016 5:46 PM
To: [log in to unmask]<mailto:[log in to unmask]>
Subject: Re: [PCCLIST] Excessive simplification / was: FRBR-LRM: "agent" as an entity

Greetings all,
I'll add to this with another example: computer programs/robots can also be creators. I wrote about this in a recent conference paper, using Racter as an example (an automatic writing program that wrote "The Policeman's Beard Is Half Constructed), which was written in 1984.

Shouldn't we be as inclusive as possible if we're talking about modeling for the future? Again, why make any kind of restriction here? I'm with Kevin all the way.

Allyson Carlyle, Associate Professor
Information School
University of Washington

PS - the ISBN database identifies Racter as the author and doesn't give a hoot about the two people who wrote the program ( - I just happened to be using the ISBN database today...

From: Program for Cooperative Cataloging [mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of Kevin M Randall
Sent: Tuesday, April 5, 2016 6:39 PM
To: [log in to unmask]<mailto:[log in to unmask]>
Subject: Re: [PCCLIST] Excessive simplification / was: FRBR-LRM: "agent" as an entity

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<>
[log in to unmask]<mailto:[log in to unmask]>

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]<mailto:[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