New Mailing List for on-line authority works in Systematics

James H. Beach jbeach at NSF.GOV
Mon Feb 24 16:45:44 CST 1997

*** New Mailing List for on-line authority works in Systematics ***

Following up on the interest in the Taxacom thread "Taxonomic Index,
Anyone?" and other recent developments, we have established a Listserv
mailing list for discussion of on-line authority systems and authority
works for taxonomic and systematics information.

The list address is: BIO-AUTH at CMSA.BERKELEY.EDU

BIO-AUTH is short for "Biological Authorities" as in the libraries' sense
of the authority works, authority control, authority systems, etc. The
list is archived at: on the Biodiversity and
Biological Collections Web Server.

Here is an introductory description of the list's coverage:

BIO-AUTH is a discussion list for the development and maintenance of
on-line authority works and authority systems in taxonomy and systematic

Taxonomic databases contain numerous classes of data which are ideally
maintained under authority control to promote efficiency, consistency and
integrity. Although standardized, community-wide approaches for authoring
and maintaining taxonomic authority records do not exist, several
biological disciplines maintain rule systems for the generation and
application of names to taxonomic entities such as species concepts. This
list is not intended for debate on the rules or efficacy of those
nomenclatural systems, but rather to be a focus for discussion on the
development of community architectures for on-line authority systems. Such
databases and systems would permit functions such as: 1) cooperative,
on-line authoring of shared authority files, 2) on-line exchange of
authority records in community-standard formats between community,
institutional and project databases, and 3) the collaborative annotation
and maintenance of records.  The informatics infrastructure necessary to
support those functions would include but not be limited to: standard work
rules and semantics for the description of authority records,
representation standards for exchange formats, participating database
systems in a federated, centralized, replicated, or mixed architecture,
and last but not least, the institutional and professional human resources
responsible for the maintenance of those databases, standards and network
system architectures.

In addition to formal scientific names, common or vernacular names
represent additional challenges for on-line catalogs and they will likely
play an increasingly important role for informal access to taxonomic and
biodiversity information on the net. Geographic, author and archival
biological classification data are also targets for standardized community
approaches for cooperative maintenance and utilization.

The focus of this list is inherently interdisciplinary. Taxonomists,
librarians, archivists and all users of biological taxonomy and
classification information, including the myriad and diverse denizens of
the net who may be looking for more consistent and effective taxonomic
interfaces to on-line biological information, are welcome to participate.

Topics to be addressed also cut across sectors of the economy including:
research labs, educational organizations, foundations, commercial and
not-for-profit content providers, libraries and government agencies. All
are invited to contribute ideas, perspectives on user and systems
requirements, analysis and other forms of constructive comment.

Jim Beach, University of Kansas, Biodiversity Research Center
 (jbeach at
Peter Rauch, Berkeley, California
 (anamaria at
Barbara Stein, University of California, Berkeley, Museum of
 Vertebrate Zoology (bstein at

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