The Future of Zoological Record as a Global Resource?

Jim Croft jrc at ANBG.GOV.AU
Tue Oct 21 07:54:49 CDT 2003

>We are facing a complex set of challenges to the traditions governing the
>creation recording and preservation of scientific knowledge -- challenges that
>involve law, market, technology and cultural norms. It is important to
>recognize that many  traditional assumptions about are being re-negotiated
>in the "digital era".

Biosis/ZR comes up regularly and emotionally in discussions of biodiversity
documentation and information management as idealogues of various
persuasions grapple with each other and their views of how the universe
must be.

Documentation of plant and animal (and the rest) nomenclature, taxonomy and
systematics is not only pivotal to all that we do, it is our core business
and for the life of me I can not understand why a body would want to
commercialized and out-source its core business... but it seems to have
happened with ZR with the result that what could have been be a
collaborative, distributed and vibrant community endeavour has become, by
all accounts, a centralized and struggling proprietary solution.

Doesn't GBIF with its broad international base and policies of distributed,
public domain and open access offer a way through this?   At its knowledge
management core (I would prefer this to be one of several axes, but that is
another story) GBIF has a catalogue of known organisms, which must
necessarily document all knowable nomenclatural, taxonomic and systematic
information about all organisms.

If our community was to direct the already considerable effort it is
putting into scattered documentation of the planet's biodiversity towards a
contribution to GBIF as a globally shared resource, we would have a
formidable product, freely available, that would remove the need for
parallel, duplicating resource-consuming projects. (... "Ah, but a man's
reach should exceed his grasp, or what's a heaven for?"...)

But hey, I am a botanist... ZR is somebody else's problem... :)

Botany is building its BR (in fact, too many of them, but that too is
another story) and it will be a sad and tragic day if we loose control of
what is our core business in the public good to the corporate
machine...  (now, that wasn't ideological or party political, was it? :) )


~ Jim Croft ~ jrc at ~ 02-62465500 ~ ~

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