I’ve recently been working my way through Terry Goodkind’s, Sword of Truth series on audio book. Great series, I highly recommend it. The audio book version I have was digitized from the original cassette tapes (don’t worry I’m not lugging around a cassette player, I gave that up two years ago) and this morning I took note of something really interesting about them. Although my recordings are .mp3s they still have the original cassette tape intros and outros still present. Part of the intro to each “cassette tape” is the narrator stating the recordings Library of Congress’ RC number, “RC41067″, page count (573) and the number of cassette sides (21) it covers.
Cataloging Yesterday and Today:
Where am I going with this? Well, other than the obvious kitsch value, think about how these cassettes might have been cataloged. You would assume the cataloger would have recorded that the audio recording spanned 21 cassette tape sides as well as other medium specific metadata. This got me thinking about surrogates, now that I have this recording as an .mp3, how important is it that information? Do I really need to know that the recording spans 21 cassette sides?
How much is too much information?:
I have the information that I need, Terry Goodkind’s original story. The fact that it was sliced up into 10 cassettes is not really relevant, as that was just a limitation of the medium at the time and does not effect the overall story.It might affect the quality of the digital transfer, but am I the listener really concerned with the quality (its pretty good considering its from a cassette) or is my real goal the actual content. I would vote on the side of content. Was the medium that I’m receiving it in important to the whole?
To Catalog the Details or Not?
How much time did that cataloger in 1994 spend recording this medium specific information, only to have it all kind of negated by the fact that it’s now an .mp3 making the cassette surrogates kinda irrelevant? Regardless of the cassette version, Richard still fights the good fight in his quest for Truth. So would I really be missing something by not knowing how many cassettes his journey was recorded on 16 years ago? I might just wonder why the recording sounds so analog, but other than that, what am I the end user getting from that information?
Readers ask yourselves, “How much time do you spend recording medium specific information about surrogates that might be irrelevant 10 years down the line?” Was it worth it? Flip to the other side of the coin and ask yourself, “What are the consequences of not recording this information?”
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Metadata and Taxonomies are my thing. I spend an awful lot of time drinking coffee and having existential dilemmas on how to categorize what the hell I do for a living.