Friday Followups: RDA Revolt and Cable TV vs. Internet Streaming

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It has been another busy week, and unfortunately Thursday has slipped into Friday. There have been a few updates to earlier Thursday Threads items, so I’m turning this into “Friday Followups” instead. We’ll attempt to get back new items next Thursday, but in the meantime take a look at these updates.

“RDA Revolt” Continues


A month ago I mentioned that there was a revolt of sorts against RDA in general and the U.S. national test of RDA in particular. Although “RDA Revolt” hasn’t taken off in the vernacular as I’d hoped when I coined the phrase, “cataloging coup” has. The primary venues are the OCLC-CAT and RDA-L mailing lists. The former requires one to register and subscribe to the mailing list, but the latter has an open web archive. As near as I can tell, the primary concerns relate to how authority records are added to OCLC: should new RDA-based authority records be created when an existing AACR2 record exists (causing duplication in the authority file) and should RDA-based authority records be added to the authority file at all (because they cause problems for the vast majority of AACR2-based library systems). The official answer from the RDA test office is “no (duplicate records should not be created)” and “yes (that’s the point of the test)”. Candi Schwartz and Melissa Cookson have more details about the controversy.

Netflix Battling with Comcast Over Payments to Stream Content


There was an Thursday Threads entry two weeks ago that mentioned the story about how fewer Americans are paying for cable TV service and the correlation to how users can get content from the web. That same report included mention of how Netflix was now offering a “streaming only” subscription plan. Now comes news that cable TV and consumer internet service provider Comcast is battling with Netflix’s content distribution network (Level 3) over the cost of the extra streaming usage that Netflix is dumping onto Comcast’s network. Steve Schultze writing in Freedom to Tinker has a good summary of the dispute followed by two stories by Timothy Lee on the same blog that frames the dispute from the perspective of Level 3 and Comcast. I continue to think that there are issues here to watch for libraries because we want to be aware of how information from some sources might be given preferential treatment over others based on money flowing between companies. In this respect it is related to the controversy of how drug manufacturers are paying ghostwriters to create articles that prominent doctors submit to prestigious journals. How the information flows to us and our users may influence how reliable and trustworthy we think that information is. How content is (or is not) being transmitted across the major internet backbones is a similar concern.

(This post was updated on 10-Sep-2011.)