Thursday, November 20, 2008

OCLC Policy Re-re-released, now in unfriendly PDF

After releasing their new records policy, pulling it back and re-releasing it, I put together a much-appreciated simple "diff," using MediaWiki's history feature. It was easy to do, once someone found a cached copy of the original, since both were HTML documents.

Now OCLC has released a third version of the policy, this time in PDF. The new version is harder to manipulate. (Hasn't anyone at OCLC read Jacob Nielsen.) Adobe PDF and Preview mangle and rearrange the text when cut-and-pasted.

Is there any kind soul out there who wants to whip the text into shape and post it on the wiki page so we can do yet another diff?

Update: After wrangling with the text—sent by various people—it looks like this is going to be very hard to do. The text differs in all sorts of minor formatting ways that throw off the diff. Besides, OCLC will probably just release another version next week—no doubt in JPEG, or carved, like the Behistun Inscription, where only the gods can read it.

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Blogger prosfilaes said...

I'm sure they've read Nielsen, which says if you want to encourage people who don't have to read a document to read it, it shouldn't be in PDF. They probably took that to heart; if you want to hinder easy commentary by a thousand bloggers, PDF doesn't hurt.

11/20/2008 6:50 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Done, but the diff is very sensitive to odd spaces and paragraph renumbering :-(

11/20/2008 7:03 PM  
Anonymous MoviesWeWatched2008 said...

I have to say I love the title of this post

11/20/2008 9:23 PM  
Blogger Zac said...

okay, nicer now

try this link

11/21/2008 4:28 AM  
Anonymous Devan said...

The only 'diff' is that they've changed the word Restriction do Condition. Oh, that makes it so much better.

11/21/2008 2:46 PM  
Blogger Roy Tennant said...

Do you honestly think we moved to PDF to "foil" your plans to diff it with the earlier version? Unbelievable. It's simply easier, when it is going through frequent alterations, to throw it up in PDF. It will of course be available in HTML when we don't have to waste a lot of time translating it.

11/23/2008 3:37 PM  
Blogger Tim said...

No, I don't. Take a joke.

11/23/2008 4:18 PM  
Blogger Tim said...

I do think that the whole roll-out has been signally ham-handed, and the changes largely about image (eg., restrictions to conditions), not substance.

That OCLC feels it can rewrite its core member-relations document, governing OCLC's control of material it doesn't own and didn't create, with a truncated, non-official debate over an ever-changing document is a matter for OCLC members to ponder.

The 500,000-odd members of LibraryThing, however, get no vote in the matter and must accept that that core library principle of "free to all" is subject to revision when OCLC's extremely profitable monopoly is at stake.

11/23/2008 4:27 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


You have complained repeatedly that what OCLC is doing harms your business, but what I don't get is why OCLC should make the job of building the for-profit side of LibraryThing any easier. If there is a legal case to be made that OCLC should make these records freely available for all, then maybe you and some others should band together and just sue them the way telcoms used to do over access to the last mile. Or maybe LibraryThing and OCLC could just swap complete copies of each other’s databases. Alternatively, you have an army of willing supporters who will do the work for you and who seem to need only the satisfaction of a job well done as just compensation. Can’t you just flashmob a rival database into existence? Your 500,000 members don't get a vote because they are not members of OCLC. Maybe LibraryThing should become a dues paying member. Just some thoughts.

11/29/2008 3:15 PM  
Blogger Mark said...

I love LibraryThing enough to become a lifetime member. There's nothing about the site that I dislike. That said, I'm also a practicing librarian working at a major academic research library that uses OCLC. I'm also serve as an alternate delegate to the OCLC Members Council.

I think it's ridiculous for people to assert that OCLC has no claim on the records submitted by its members. It's even more ridiculous to posit some sinister motive on OCLC's part (OCLC is one of the best things going for libraries.)

The records in WorldCat have been massaged, updated ad infinitum and re-presented for discovery in a system that is the envy of the bibliographic world. There is no reason to give this information away for free. Still, the new record policy is very flexible in my opinion. OCLC is just asking for attribution--a common practice in academia.

So, I will continue to use and support both systems. I encourage the leaders of each organization to talk and work something out.

12/14/2008 7:52 PM  
Anonymous Michael Kaplan said...

Are you still looking for a proper DOC created from the PDF? I can supply it if still desired.

12/18/2008 3:04 PM  

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