Index Kewensis on CD-ROM

Thomas G. Lammers lammers at FMPPR.FMNH.ORG
Mon Dec 29 07:05:17 CST 1997

At 06:28 PM 12-20-97 +0800, Les Watson wrote:

>     This is not the downside of modern technology.  It is the downside of
>leaving the authoritative Index in the hands of an institution which is
>unable or unwilling to apply the technology in a legitimate way; viz., to
>render the Index readily and inexpensively accessible, in continuously
>updated form, to the scientific community at large.  The original cost of
>the CD-ROM put it beyond the reach of most individual botanists, and of many
>herbaria - for whom out of date versions are of little use anyway;  and the
>cost of periodic updates (themselves out of date from the time of issue)
>should come as no surprise.

        Yes, it IS the downside of modern technology.  It costs MONEY to
assemble the data and place them on CD-ROM.   SOMEONE has to pay for that
effort.  That someone is the consumer.

        This is a FAR larger question that systematics or even science.  The
need for people to profit (or at least meet expenses) in some fashion from
their effort.  It would all be very lovely if Index Kewensis were available
gratis over the Web, but that don't pay the bills.

        Now that I've defended the producers of the IK CD-ROM, I'll take my
own little potshot.  It does seem that the price charged must go WAY beyond
recouping expenses or a modest profit; after all, most of the data were
already gathered over the past century (under ol' Chuck Darwin's aegis, I
believe), and not much editing of entries is evident.   Perhaps placing it
on-line and paying an annual fee might be a better way to go.

Thomas G. Lammers

Classification, Nomenclature, Phylogeny and Biogeography
of the Campanulaceae, s. lat.

Department of Botany
Field Museum of Natural History
Roosevelt Road at Lake Shore Drive
Chicago, Illinois 60605-2496 USA

e-mail:    tlammers at
voice mail: 312-922-9410 ext. 317
fax:                312-427-2530

"The most important thing to learn is how to teach yourself.
 Everything else ... is just detail."
                                -- Patrick Gibson

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