JOSEPH E. LAFERRIERE
josephl at AZTEC.ASU.EDU
Tue Mar 25 07:08:33 CST 1997
Quote from yesterday:
"Digital data does not change and is less perishable than
Sorry to be blunt, but this is total nonsense. The debate
thus far has been centered around whether electronic
publication can replace printed descriptions. This task
presents enough problems. The suggestion that digital images
can replace specimens changes the nature of the question, and
is an idea I must strenuously oppose.
There are specimens in European herbaria 500 years old. If
they are properly cared for, they will still be available to
be examined by the famous 24th-Century botanist Keiko
O'Brian. True, specimens are subject to insect damage,
weather damage, water damage, and political misfortunes (such
as what happened to B and PNH in the 1940's). Any digital
archiving system devised will be subject to all the same
dangers and more (except maybe the insects). Digital systems
are also subject to technological change, something from
which specimens are totally immune. A few days ago, someone
was touting the advantages of publication by CD-ROM, saying
it will be "at least 30 or 40 years" before the technology is
outdated. That is not good enough. Because of the priority
rules in nomenclature, we need to look 100 or 200 years into
the future. Will present-day technology still be in use in
the year 2197? No, of course not. It will be viewed upon the
way we view upon parchment scrolls. Will our technology still
be readable? Maybe, maybe not. We cannot assume it will be.
As for the argument "This information is so important someone
will undoubtedly take care of it," one cannot assume that
someone else will value your work as much as you do. Unless
you are willing to contribute the time and resources yourself
to ensure that your work will still be accessible for future
generations, do not assume that someone else will.
Dr. Joseph E. Laferriere, 4717 E First St., Tucson AZ 85711 USA.
After 10 Apr 1997: Herbario, CEAMISH, Universidad Autonoma del
Estado de Morelos, Cuernavaca, Morelos, Mexico.
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