Electronic Holy War (fwd)

James H. Beach jbeach at NSF.GOV
Thu Oct 19 12:31:03 CDT 1995

On Thu, 19 Oct 1995, George Schatz for the Madagascar Flora project wrote:

> In the process of putting it all together for the
> Web, I have been forced to ponder a number of issues related to
> electronic publishing (format, copyright, etc.).  What are people
> currently thinking along these lines?  For example, should we be
> considering modifying our Codes of Nomenclature to allow Web publishing
> of new taxa (so many species; too little time)?

George's suggestion about the need to accelerate the pace of new taxa
descriptions through electronic publication is a timely (some would say now
overdue) one.  It also begs the question of when classifications and all of
their nodes will be available and navigatible on the network.

We are now swimming in taxon data on the net which are mostly binomials
disconnected from the descriptions, types, data, distributions, and
bibliographic links.

At a meeting yesterday, one of the three major DNA sequence database
providers mentioned that all three projects had agreed on an internal
consensus classification for sequence entries, for searching and
identification purposes.  No doubt this strategy was a result of a lack of
any authoritative, network-based source of taxa and names from the
biodiversity community.

As I understand it, the microbial biodiversity community is working
with classifications based on the latest sample sequence data without
assigning names at all.

And the cladists have all sorts of un-named ancestral nodes on their
trees along with an interesting proposal for rankless nomenclature.

Is it time for taxonomists to launch a holy-war to regain mastery of taxon,
node and classification knowledge dissemination?  Will other communities find
ways to live without authoritative names *and taxonomic authorities* for
organisms if the taxonomic communities don't swarm all over this electronic
challenge, now?

Jim Beach

More information about the Taxacom mailing list