Electronic publication

Hannu Saarenmaa hannu.saarenmaa at EEA.DK
Mon Mar 24 10:21:35 CST 1997

Dear Taxacomers,

achieving electronic publication of new taxa is probably the most
important challenge of taxonomy now.   The benefits of such a system
would include:
- speed: faster access to information on new taxa
- equality: access to information by remote and less advantageous
- depth: more information, including colour images and links to related
work can be posted
- robustness:  less dependency on access to vulnerable type specimens as
their detailed imagery can be posted
- longevity:  digital data does not change and is less perishable than
- scalability:  this would gradually grow into a system with home pages
for all taxa (species new and old alike)
- (more: please add to list)

However, the heart of the matter is that it is simply not enough that
each scientist start running a web site to describe his/her taxa.  There
must be supporting INFRASTRUCTURE: a few credible institutions (regional
network hubs) providing referee networks (quality assurance), archiving,
coordination, and a minimal number of necessary printed counterparts of
descriptions required by ICZN.  They should also work with other,
traditional publishers to achieve their cooperation.

Now, what is the Clearing House Mechanism of the Convention of
Biological Diversity doing, if not this?  The CHM of CBD exists mainly
to facilitate north-south capacity building.  I believe the above
benefits would be  more important for the less advantageous countries
than anybody else.

The wheel has been invented already once: the system should work the
same way as GenBank.  Unless sequences are deposited to these electronic
clearinghouses (three of them globally), the work is not done.   When
GenBank was introduced, time lag from discovery to information
dissemination dropped from 2-3 year to a few days.  Biotechnology gained

I also believe that establishing this system would raise the level of
credibility of taxonomy, which would be realised as increased resources.

Regards,  Hannu

Hannu Saarenmaa, Project Manager     smtp:hannu.saarenmaa at eea.dk
European Environment Agency          http://www.eea.dk/
Kongens Nytorv 6                     tel:+45-33367115
DK-1050 Copenhagen K                 fax:+45-33367199

*** Disclaimer: The facts and opinions above do not necessarily reflect
those of European Environment Agency or European Union. ***

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