18th Century mentality in the 21st Century

Doug Yanega dyanega at POP.UCR.EDU
Thu Nov 15 10:32:27 CST 2001

Hendrik responded to Chris:

>Hence, there appear to be only
>two valid approaches to web-based publication at present. Either such
>publications are ignored as far as nomenclature (not science!) is concerned
>(the option chosen by the editors of the present code, but this is indeed
>probably not tenable in the long run), or a means is provided to ensure that
>scientists will still be able to trace web-published information with
>nomenclatural consequences within 10 (or 20, or 100) years. This, IMHO, can
>at present only be achieved by an independent organisation (such as the Int.
>Commission on Zool. Nomenclature) where electronic publications could be
>deposited, and which would have to take care of the preservation (and -
>preferably - free dissemination) of nomenclatural information published on
>the web. To my knowledge, such an organisation does not exist.

I would like to second this comment, and remind Chris (and I believe
he'll recall this if he thinks about it for a moment) that I have in
the past been - and still am - a firm and vocal proponent of
electronic publication AND the establishment of an organization such
as Hendrik describes. What I want and what we have to work with are,
however, different things.

Though this is probably an unpopular thing to say, I believe it is
absolutely necessary, for the future of our science, that we either
establish or designate a single agency which will act as THE
universal nomenclatural clearing-house; this will be the SOLE agency
with which all new names must be registered, and it must also be
empowered to review, publish, archive, and disseminate new
*electronic* taxonomic works (in addition to the registration and
archival functions of external publications). Done properly, this
could be accomplished without even requiring authors to pay fees, and
by simple natural selection would likely become the *primary* place
for all new names to be published. Wouldn't you prefer to publish in
a free journal which could make your work available to everyone on
the entire web within 2 days of receiving the referee's final

The "archive" step is the true bone of contention, and this can be
accommodated (at present) using various media such as CDs (and even
small-run printing of hardcopies distributed to major libraries if
people are still paranoid). An agency which is dedicated to this
task, and supported indefinitely, will BY DEFINITION be committed
from its inception to *perpetuation* of all archives, including
upgrades to newer and better storage media as the technology
advances. No more whining about "Oh, we don't *trust* CDs to be
permanent!" or "Just look at all those spools of 8-track tape, or
5.25 inch floppies, or whatever other obsolete archives there are out
there, now nearly unretrievable!". Just because someone else 25 years
ago didn't expect or budget for media upgrades doesn't mean we would
have to make the same stupid mistake TODAY. We do, amazingly, know
better now.


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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