document language

In response to:

Svenonius, Elaine. (2000) “The intellectual foundation of information organization.” Cambridge: MIT Press. Chapter 7.


Dunsire, Gordon. (2007) “Distinguishing content from carrier: the RDA/ONIX framework for resource categorization.” D-Lib Magazine 12(1/2): n.p.

Document language is seemingly the easiest concept we have discussed and so far as traditional bibliographic data is concerned, it might require many rules but it is fairly clear. A book, after all, has a fixed number of pages and is of a particular size. My copy of Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell is 846 pages (plus a few pages of positive reviews, a title page, and about the author page), is softcover (though here I start having a problem because I don’t know if AACR would prefer the use of “paperback”, but that has connotations for me of a light summer read and at over 800 pages JS & Mr N is pretty hefty for beach reading). It has most certainly been printed since the copyright date of 2004, though the softcover is usually released after the hardcover.

But then there are digital documents. The marketing website for the book I’ve been describing is an example. It has probably been available since shortly before the first release of the book, and it still in existance. I can, however, rely on the book being persistent for years, provided I care for it properly. The website could disappear at anytime. It is, however, primarily text-based, so if I wanted to preserve the “about the author” statements “written” by the main characters of the book I could do that easily. In contrast, the site for the new Coraline film is likely to only be available for a limited time, and is so intensely interactive there would be no way for someone other than the owners to preserve it. Its transitory nature perhaps makes it a bad example, but it does require many of the attributes of a RDA/ONIX record (ImageDimensionality: two dimentional, ImageMovement: mixed?, Interactivity: interactive).

It makes sense to me that many of the attributes of carrier are open to being user defined since they are likely to change over time – at this point we still burn CDs and DVDs fairly frequently, but it is probable that this FixationMethod will be supplanted, though we don’t entirely know how yet. It is interesting that fewer of the content attributes can be user defined, but those that can include subject and genre. I’m not clear on why that would be. I’m also bemused by the SensoryMode attribute (sight; hearing; touch; taste; smell; none).  It comes very close to being able to describe a cake.


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