what are we going to do

Hugh D. Wilson wilson at BIO.TAMU.EDU
Tue Oct 22 10:59:23 CDT 1996

Anita F. Cholewa says:

"It has already been suggested to us that we charge researchers for
the cost of mailing loans. We tried to charge for remote access to
our vascular database but NSF told us we wouldn't be able to obtain
their funding if we did such a thing....


....Non-taxonomy researchers must somehow be made to under- stand our
importance to their work.  We have been silent (or at least we
haven't shouted) for far too long outside our own community."

One 'traditional' problem with funding for biodiversity collections
has been the tendency for the data to be 'buried', both in terms of
physical placement and curatorial attitudes.  Emergence of the WWW
has eliminated the former, but the latter - in my view - remains as a
significant problem, at least in terms of promoting systematics as a
'supportable' activity of Science.

I think the systematic community would be well served if it followed
the lead provided by NSF (which seems to be providing *all* leads)
and work to open the data resource for general (open/free) use.  If
this is done in such a way that the resource can be used by both the
scientific community and the general public (mostly *not* taxonomists
and mostly *not* concerned with tropical biotas), then efforts by
taxonomists to enhance/expand the enterprise might find more - at
least broader - support.

Hugh D. Wilson
Texas A&M University - Biology
h-wilson at tamu.edu (409-845-3354)

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