I almost never link to new blogs with less than a few weeks of posts in them, but Glenn Fleishman [you may know him from such hits as isbn.nu] has a proven track record and is a delight to read. His new blog ISBlogN which tracks the “authority problem” with the ISBN system for most people’s real-world search needs. He’s got big plans, it will be fun to watch them unfold.
Authority doesn’t mean that the information is correct. Rather, it means that you have authoritatively settled on a single form of a category of information that might be represented in several ways. It’s a way to collapse lots of individual information that is fundamentally about the same think into a single set of information that is mapped to the same thing. This is closer to how people conceive of what they want from a book search than any of the tools I’ve seen….. I believe that with a little effort and some coordination, along with the tenets of Feist v. Rural, the Internet community could develop a WikiBook-a-pedia, or a compendium of updatable bibliographic information along with authority and chunky linkages that could be distributed freely.