fwd: Electronics vs Paper

William L at
Fri Sep 19 07:13:06 CDT 1997

Stan Blum wrote:
> More the point about material examined:  What we want to record is that
> particular specimens were examined and formed the basis of a particular
> publication (or statements about the world).

Actually, very often what we want to know is that a specimen identified
as thus and so was found at such and such a geographic locality.  Or
that it was found at such and such a time of year, or in a particular
habitat.  This may be largely unrelated to the original focus of the
publication - it's an example of multiple uses for the same original
data set, and it is decidedly imperiled by the omission of "material
examined" sections.

If all instituional collections were entered in computerized databases,
so that one could obtain the data online, or by asking for a printout
for a particular group, this would be less critical.   But that is an
extremely unlikely situation in Entomology.  Imagine starting from
scratch to enter a million records from pin labels!  There are a number
of collections that size and it seems unlikely that we will see that
data electronically accessible in our, or our grandchildren's
lifetimes.  That makes "specimens examined" lists, however presented,  a
critical resource.  It extracts and makes available some of the data in
those collections.


Dr. William L. Pratt, Curator of Invertebrates
Marjorie Barrick Museum of Natural History
University of Nevada, Las Vegas Box 4012
Las Vegas, NV 89154-4012
(702)895-1403, fax (702)895-3094 e-mail prattw at nevada.edu

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