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Chronological facet in FAST March 8, 2008

Posted by Mia in FRAD, FRBR, Uncategorized.
Tags: , ,

One of the criticisms of FAST is that the chronological facet is separated from the topic. So if there is a span of years, the facet becomes meaningless since it is devoid of context. Let’s take the following LCSH heading:

Furniture|z United States|x History |y19th century

and convert it to FAST. Since each facet can only be subdivided by a facet of the same kind, i.e., topic subdivides by topic — this heading converts to 3 FAST headings:

Topical: Furniture — History
United States
Chronological: 1900-1999

The chronological facet — and the geographical as well — sits by itself. When there are multiple headings with geographical and/or chronological, these are split from the context and by themselves are at best meaningless, and at worst, the dots can be connected to the wrong topic.

So something is missing –and that is the relationship of these terms to the other terms. While this is a legitimate criticism of FAST at this stage, it should be up to the system’s retrieval and presentation logic to do the appropriate combining. Why would we expect any user to intuit this or any other construction?

A user would probably not begin a search for “1900-1999” in and of itself. A user will first search for a something (or a someone), so typically, a noun. If the user were interested in the loose concept “Nineteenth century” that by itself could well be the main topic, rather than an aspect of something else, say the concept Art, or Literary Criticism, modified by a ‘1900-1999’ facet. So, is there any correlation, say an inverted order between the occurrences of the term and its importance in the search string, in determining the “predominance” of the facet? And if so, how would a system compensate?

The musings continue.