specimens examined lists, again

Peter Rauch peterr at VIOLET.BERKELEY.EDU
Sun Aug 6 11:10:38 CDT 1995

Could you be more explicit?

In particular, the issue isn't whether there is technology to track
something, but how to do so in an affordable way. Each industry,
and indeed each company, has its idiosyncracies, and realizes that if
it can shave pennies, it can save dollars, and can possibly afford to
improve the way it does business.

Is it arrogance that argues to consider how to have a poor "industry",
such as is the systematics enterprise, save dollars?

We're all aware that Janzen, for example, has used off-the-shelf technology
to solve a particular "product" tracking problem he had to address.
Before him, others "solved" their problems with the technology they had
at hand at the time ; Dan, in his time, carried the solution a giant
step further.

But, are we convinced that the ultimate solution was achieved --that
costs are now and forever minimized, that _everyone_ has at her disposal
_the_ solution?

If the solutions lie in examination and adoption/adaptation of
industrial-strength solutions, fine.  Who has excluded that
avenue of inquiry?

"Somehow biologists _always_ behave as if...."???  Very general
condemnation that I don't think stands the spotlight of inspection,
and in particular, I don't see the connection with the recent
specimen tracking discussion on Taxacom....

We have looked, and adapted. We have not been surprised. We still
find it can cost money which we must first obtain. We find that
industrial and informatics technology does evolve so we continue
to ask questions about how _we_ should next do business. Is that
arrogance? There are very few individuals from other businesses who
come flocking up to systematists and collections managers and say
"Let me solve your problem"; it's up to us to state our problem and
to seek solutions to it. Those solutions, as you point out, are often
on someone else's shelf.

Pin makers make special pins; cabinet makers make special cases;
drawer makers make special drawers; box makers make special unit trays;
software writers write special software; ...; you might call those unique
solutions, derived from common-place industrial technology.

>Date:         Sun, 6 Aug 1995 10:37:54 -0700
>Reply-To: Lynn Kimsey <bohart at UCDAVIS.EDU>
>Subject:      Re: specimens examined lists, again
>To: Multiple recipients of list TAXACOM <TAXACOM at cmsa.Berkeley.EDU>

>Somehow biologists always behave as if their problems, in this
>case tracking specimens, lots of specimens or whatever, are
>somehow unique. Has it ever occurred to any of you that industry
>has not only managed but mastered how to track anything from
>individual widgets to warehouses of stuff. As a result, if you look
>outside the biological community you may be suprised to find that
>these problems have already been solved in simple easy to
>implement ways, usually with software and hardware available
>off the shelf (so to speak).

>The same could be said of any kind of database needs. It is sheer
>arrogance to assume that somehow our problems are unqiue and
>that only we can solve them. I might add that an enormous amount
>of federal funds have been wasted because of this attitude.

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