On demand printing, a nomenclatural problem for botany

Doug Yanega dyanega at POP.UCR.EDU
Tue Apr 25 11:20:34 CDT 2000

>There will no longer be a need to do a print run and store hundreds of
>copies.  Each, individual copy is produced as it is sold.  Books are
>"published" when they are ready for production by the machines!

I don't think the problems will be unique to botany. There will be plenty
of amateur butterfly or beetle taxonomists who will view this is a tempting
prospect, and probably - eventually - a few of them will let their egos get
the better of them. It's easier to write a technically valid taxon
description under the ICZN, after all (if only because there's no Latin
required), and I suspect there are more wanna-be butterfly taxonomists than
just about any other similar group of laypeople, with the exception of
birders (but birders have a vastly harder time finding new taxa,
        Combine this with the possible threat of patronyms-for-pay, which
we've already hashed over here a bit, and I think we're ALL going to be
faced with the prospect of dealing with true junk taxonomy in the very near
future. We could, presumably, preclude any such problems if we decided, as
a community, to revise the Codes in such a way as to REQUIRE peer review
for names to be valid, but I also realize there are too many of us who will
absolutely fight to the death to PREVENT peer review from entering the
equation. We are a divided community on that topic, obviously - maybe it'll
change after a few major fiascoes come to our collective attention (I
suspect a lot of people think "These worry-warts haven't got ONE case study
to back up their fears, I won't believe it's a problem until somebody
actually goes to the trouble of publishing a vanity book full of
synonyms"), but then again, maybe not.
        I'd rather see pre-emptive action, obviously, but I don't get the
feeling I'm holding a majority opinion, so I won't hold my breath. Then
again, would anyone here really care to wager that NO ONE out there is
going to publish junk names within the next five years or so? Do you really
want to gamble the future of taxonomy on the hope that no one will ever
realize and exploit the fact that they can now *easily* publish junk names?


Doug Yanega        Dept. of Entomology         Entomology Research Museum
Univ. of California - Riverside, Riverside, CA 92521
phone: (909) 787-4315 (standard disclaimer: opinions are mine, not UCR's)
  "There are some enterprises in which a careful disorderliness
        is the true method" - Herman Melville, Moby Dick, Chap. 82

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