Electronic Registration

Richard Pyle deepreef at BISHOPMUSEUM.ORG
Fri Nov 16 08:04:19 CST 2001

This is a massive topic -- one that requires a great deal of thought and
input -- and I'm glad to see such thought and input perpetuating on this
forum through the many and varied relevant threads over the past weeks, and
past months (years?).  I will withhold the bulk of my own "great deal" of
thought and input until I have time to give it the attention it deserves,
but I did want to echo something that Doug just posted, in response to Ron:

> It's not wanting control, it's wanting *standards*.

This is *exactly* the point.  We are arguing two different things here:
form, and content.  I think that Ron's concerns about "review" transmutating
into "censorship" primarily apply to *content* (i.e., whether critter/weed
"X" should be regarded as distinct enough from critter/weed "Y" to warrant
reflection in the nomeclature). What Doug is talking about (I think) is
*form*.  The IC_N codes have also been about form; that is, what form of
description constitutes an acceptable addition to scientific nomenclature.
These codes have "wisely" (to borrow Ron's word) evolved over the years to
reflect an evolving playing field on which scientists engage their sport.
Between the time of Linnaeus, and the time the current version of the ICZN
code was being drafted, the primary means of information exchange within the
scientific communitiy was via ink printed on paper. Thus, the code devotes a
lot of its own ink and paper to describing what other forms of ink and paper
constitute acceptable means of defining biological nomenclature. Much of the
wording of the code exists in order to establish baseline standards to
accomodate the vast array of printed publication diversity (defining form)
with careful avoidance of dictating the ideas represented by those printed
words (defining content).

In last decade or so (half-decade, really), the internet has rocketed to
prominence as a means for communication among scientists. If it's not
currently the primary means of information exchange between scientists, it
certainly will be (and soon).  In my opinion, it is now time for the
taxonomic community to reflect on how the paradigm shift in information
exchange should be reflected in the next version of the codes.  How can we
maintain liberal guidelines for information content, while capitalizing on
technology to advance the structural *form* (and dissemination) of that
information? Many good ideas have already been posted, and if I think of any
others worth considering, I'll add them to the fray.


Richard L. Pyle
Ichthyology, Bishop Museum
1525 Bernice St., Honolulu, HI 96817
Ph: (808)848-4115, Fax: (808)847-8252
email: deepreef at bishopmuseum.org
"The views expressed are those of the sender, and not necessarily those of
Bishop Museum."

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