Digitial Publication, etc.

B. J. Tindall bti at DSMZ.DE
Tue Jun 26 17:16:19 CDT 2001

Steve Manning wrote:
>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
If I recall, in the early days of Codes of Nomenclature they avoided
priority, until they really couldn't get around it. The problem of digging
through old literature has come up several times in the past with different
a) the Bacteriological Code has a starting date of 1.1.1980, which avoids a
lot of problems with dubious descriptions etc.
b) botanists came up with "names in current usage" and they have fairly
complete lists of generic and I think family names
c) zoology lags some way behind and the Zoological Record are aware of that
However, you still can't get around the problem of priority. In 300 years
our publications will be the ones causing respiratory problems whether it
be printed or CD. Putting everything on the Internet is only a solution to
things in routine usage and you have to archive the older material somehow,
and it is that archived material which gathers dust!

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