Peter Stevens peter.stevens at MOBOT.ORG
Thu May 30 11:45:57 CDT 2002

Does anybody know of published estimates of how much time taxonomists
actually spend on nomenclatural matters?  I seem to remember seeing
an estimate of time spent on such things by botanists working on the
European flora, but I forgot to make a note of the paper (assuming I
saw it).

Peter S.

This post has nothing immediately to do with the thread " valid genus
or nomen nudum?", although there is clearly a connection, nor with
Steve Shattuck's post, which I append in case y'all didn't see it.

At 10:46 AM +1000 5/30/02, Steve Shattuck wrote:
>What a bleak picture.  A system so complex that the only way to make it work
>is to actually view the exact words as published by anyone, at any time
>since 1758, in almost any type of publication.  And if we don't go back to
>1758 there is a very good chance someone else will and thus invalidate all
>of our hard work.  And we seem to accept, with minimal complaint, that it
>will cost millions and millions of dollars just to capture what's happened
>up to now and that's just how it has to be (and always will be forever into
>the future).  Why would you want to stick so tightly to such a system?
>There most certainly must be a better way.  If there isn't then we're either
>not as cleaver as we think we are or we ARE like the monks, hand-writing our
>texts and telling Gutenberg that his "printing press-thingy" will never
>catch on and we don't want anything to do with it, thank you very much.
>The core of the problem seems to be that individual taxonomists don't need a
>world list of all taxa.  Most work on a relatively small group (a family or
>set of genera) and it's fairly easy to learn these groups (that's what
>Ph.D.'s get you).  To be a successful taxonomist you don't need to actively
>contribute to the global picture, just your little corner of it.  And if
>someone in another corner doesn't know about your work it doesn't really
>matter:  the Codes say that anything published counts, no matter how obscure
>the source.
>The solution to this problem will require at least two things: cultural
>change and loss of freedom.  Our cultural practices will need to change
>because we CANNOT continue to do things the way we've done them in the past
>- it's just not working.  And we will be forced to give up some freedoms if
>we really want to be a global community rather than a series of isolated
>individuals working in our own little vacuums.  For better or worse, the
>Global Community is growing very rapidly and the Web has changed the way we
>communicate and share information forever.  We have a number of choices:
>continue the way we've been going for the past 250 years and stop
>complaining about it or change our work practices to meet the challenges and
>opportunities that exist today.
>We don't need to through the baby out with the bath water, but we certainly
>need to change the bath water!

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