Digitial Publication, etc.

Tue Jun 26 09:30:28 CDT 2001


I think Chris makes an excellent point about the importance and uniqueness
of the concept of Priority for taxonomists/systematists.  I have often felt
that nomenclatural investigations are the tail that wags the taxonomic
dog.  I went into the field with the naive idea that it consisted mainly of
looking at and classifying organisms rather than shuffling through 18th and
19th century works which are scarcely accessible, scattered and unhealthy
for those with respiratory problems.  At a time when quite a few species
are going extinct every day we are poring through the ancient literature
and arguing the fine points in print or otherwise, maybe we should question
whether we have our "priorities" wrong.  How about proposing revisions to
the codes to make Priority, as presently conceived, expire after fifty
years or so?  Or at least have a newer start date? Those proposals are off
the top of my head, but the problem is not!  And whether the format is
electronic or paper is not the bottom line.

Steve Manning

At 07:32 AM 6/26/01 -0400, christian thompson wrote:
>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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