Digitial Publication, etc.

christian thompson cthompson at SEL.BARC.USDA.GOV
Tue Jun 26 07:32:50 CDT 2001

As usual Doug glosses over the details when he wrote:

>Of course, no one has proven that CDs aren't ephemeral, so we're dealing
with a double standard (by accepting CDs, >the Commission has implicitly
removed "demonstrable permanence of medium" as a criterion
>for valid publication).

Yes, no one has yet lived 100 plus years to tell us whether "CD," are as
permanent as "ink on paper," but we do know that no all "ink on paper" is
permanent. We already have numerous publications rotting on our library
shelves which are less than 100 years old.  So, there is "no double
standard," because the ICZN does not reject publications printed on cheap

The key provision of the ICZN in this regard is the "in an edition
containing simultaneously obtainable copies by a method that assures
numerous identical and durable copies." [ICZN Art. 8.1.3]  This clauses
rules out the "one-off," "re-recordable" CDs that one makes on their
computer and restricts valid publications to CD-ROM which are "stamped,"
made by a manufacturing process.  The question of the "permanence" of this
kind of medium is not dependent on the "dye" used, but ultimately on the
care given to the CD-ROM as it is corrosion of the backing that destroyes
the readibility of the medium. So, take your standard CD-ROM throw it into a
bucket of water and then leave it out in the sun. Yes, it isn't permanent.
But do the same to your average taxonomic journal. And yes, they aren't
permanence either.

Markku Savela is correct in pointing out the two critical factors. They
remain the "numerous identical ... copies" issued "simultaneously."

Until the WWW can assume us that there are "numerous" [yes, you can argue
about this word, but at least more than 2 copies] copies available which are
"identical" to that version originally issued, then zoological nomenclature
should restricted WWW publication.

And the answer to Doug's question of ""Why are we still not doing what all
these other scientists have been doing - competently - for so long?" is that
no other Science follows PRIORITY as does Systematics / Taxonomy. We have
accepted a paradigm which requires an archival element which it is critical
to know exactly what was "written" [disseminated] when. Other sciences
really don't care about priority, don't care whether the record is changed,
etc. and definately do not look back to 1758!

F. Christian Thompson
Systematic Entomology Lab., ARS, USDA
Smithsonian Institution
Washington, D. C. 20560-0169
(202) 382-1800 voice
(202) 786-9422 FAX
cthompso at sel.barc.usda.gov
visit our Diptera site at www.diptera.org

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