Allen H. Renear and Yunseon Choi: Modeling Our Understanding, Understanding Our Models: The Case of Inheritance in FRBR (95 KB PDF). In Grove, Andrew, Eds. Proceedings 69th Annual Meeting of the American Society for Information Science and Technology (ASIST) 43. Here’s the abstract:They argue against seeing FRBR as having inheritance between the Group 1 entities because only the Item entity is concrete, the others are abstract.
The argument is simple: FRBR describes works as abstract and items as concrete. If all properties of “higher” entities are inherited by “lower” entities then items inherit the property of being abstract, and therefore items will be both abstract and concrete. But nothing is both abstract and concrete - therefore there is no unlimited general property inheritance in FRBR.They make their point using a symbol set that isn't part of my vocabulary, so I'm taking on faith that they've proven this adequately. I have to say that I tend to consider all aspects of metadata to be abstract in nature, since it is a representation of something else, so their argument doesn't quite work for me.
This brings up for me, however, some larger issues, such as: Do we need a bibliographic concept that we can describe as a formal model? The FRBR model doesn't appear to survive formal analysis (see citations in the article), but does that really matter? I'm not a great fan of formality (at least not compared to some other folks), but it worries me that we are embracing a concept that we may not all understand in the same way. I have twice seen references to the "Work" entity as being "the idea." This strikes me as being horribly wrong, but without something a bit more (pardon the expression) concrete to go on, I don't see how we are going to come out with a definition that we can all agree on. And if we need to jigger the FRBR model a bit to make it work better, what's the mechanism for doing so?