John Grehan jgrehan at SCIENCEBUFF.ORG
Fri Aug 20 08:25:15 CDT 2004

I for one think it's a bloody good idea if it has not been done already.
It makes a lot of sense in that I see how convoluted the nomenclatural
sittuation is with discussions on this list. It's not possible, unless
one is totally devoted by time and inclination, to have instant recall
on the code (any more than any other legislative item) and all its
applications, not to mention all the ins and outs of different
circumstances. On top of that, it would seem to me that every name ever
out there could be included in a data base that would provide referent
for any proposed names. Perhaps such a program would allow for regular
updates throught the web in the same way with virus software. It seems
to me to be such an 'obvious' approach that there must be some
'obvioius' problem as to why it has not been done already if that is the
case. In which case I will be interested to know the nature of such

John Grehan

> -----Original Message-----
> From: Taxacom Discussion List [mailto:TAXACOM at LISTSERV.NHM.KU.EDU] On
> Behalf Of Richard Pyle
> Sent: Friday, August 20, 2004 6:59 AM
> Subject: [TAXACOM] TurboTaxonomy?
> First, apologies for the cross-posting.
> I wonder if people on these lists could comment on the magnitude of
> "problem" (if it exists) of taxonomic descriptions published by
> who are not intimately familiar with the Codes of scientific
> and thus clutter the BioNomenSphere with unavailable names, or poorly
> documented taxa. Is this sort of thing relatively rare, or does it
> at a non-trivial level?
> Conversely, I was wondering if part of the "taxonomic impediment"
> be alleviated by making the process of naming new taxa easier for
> biologists
> who do not otherwise consider themselves taxonomists.  Would there be
> net
> improvement in the current situation by distributing the workload of
> naming
> new taxa to a broader population of researchers?  Or, would there be a
> more
> significant loss in the overall taxonomic situation by encouraging
> unqualified individuals to mess around in the taxonomic and
> world, and do more harm than good?
> The reason I ask these questions relate to a thought I had while
> off to sleep last night.  I beg for your indulgence:
> Anyone in the U.S. who has used the software program "TurboTax" to
> them
> to file their income taxes with the IRS has probably been impressed
> how
> the program cuts through the obtuse and often unintelligible U.S.
> Tax Code, and presents the user with a series of straight-forward and
> easy-to-understand questions, and thereby walk the user through the
> process
> of filing tax returns.  There are features that allow, with a single
> mouse-click, access to a clear and readable interpretation of the Tax
> Code,
> with good explanations of how to comply with the Code, etc.
> The thought I had was whether an analogous tool might be useful for
> Taxonomy.  Rather than walking the user through the process of filing
> taxes
> in accordance with the U.S. Tax Code, the tool would walk the
> through the process of describing a new taxon in accordance with the
> relevant Code of Nomenclature. It would include straight-forward
> to the user to ensure that all relevant Articles of the Code are
> with, with links to elaborated descriptions and interpretations of
> article, example cases, etc. It would essentially walk the user
> the
> process of describing a new taxon, perhaps with an embedded Latin
> dictionary
> and grammar checker to help with forming a good name, links to lists
> existing taxa to avoid accidental creation of homonyms, information
> how to properly designate and deposit type specimens, a guide to
> acceptable
> published works, hyperlinked glossary, etc. (a long stream of ideas
> features come to mind).
> My main question to these lists is whether such a tool would really
> things much, or would it be of limited value (or even potentially make
> things worse)?  Seasoned taxonomists probably wouldn't have much use
> it
> (in the same way that professional corporate tax advisors probably
> use
> TurboTax much), but students and "semi-taxonomists" would probably
find it
> very useful.
> Is this a dead-end idea, or something perhaps worth thinking about
> more?
> Aloha,
> Rich
> Richard L. Pyle, PhD
> Natural Sciences Database Coordinator, Bishop Museum
> 1525 Bernice St., Honolulu, HI 96817
> Ph: (808)848-4115, Fax: (808)847-8252
> email: deepreef at bishopmuseum.org
> http://www.bishopmuseum.org/bishop/HBS/pylerichard.html

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