Fwd: We can dream, can't we?

Doug Yanega dyanega at POP.UCR.EDU
Thu Oct 11 11:57:54 CDT 2001

Chris Thompson wrote:

>Yes, ITIS doesn't cover all names yet. But there are people building Name
>databases (=Nomenclators) for many major groups. Flies, which represent 10%
>of the World's Known biodiversity are being covered by the BioSystematic
>Database of World Diptera. We have some 200,000 names in our Nomenclator
>today (see us under Names at www.diptera.org). Our recn number is stable.

But these databases point out one of those practical problems I
mentioned: despite the complexity and detail of the information,
these databases (and most others online) are available ONLY for
searching. You can't go to www.diptera.org and download the contents
of the database into a curatorial authority file. It is, therefore,
essentially useless for the job I have to do as a museum curator
trying to automate the cataloging of our holdings so each specimen
record contains the present, valid name. It is prohibitively
difficult to look up each species one at a time and type the data in,
but that's all I can do unless the authority file resides on MY hard
drive, and not a remote location. That's why I tried to get a
data-sharing program going, with very little positive feedback.
People either already have what they need for their own private
interests, or they feel too proprietary about the work they've done
and are unwilling to share it. But the reality is there are too many
names for any one person to do all the work, so either we share or we

>The only real problem with our dreams is not the dreams themselves which
>practical realities but the necessary funding to do the work. IF the
>systematics community had the same level of funding that the human genome
>project had, then cataloging the existing names for all life would be

This is also true, but the point remains - even if the money has been
spent and things like your BDWD Diptera files, the Orthoptera species
file, Hymenoptera On-Line, and ITIS, etc. now exist, those of us who
need that data still don't have the level of access to it we need for
it to be of *practical* benefit to us.


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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