ITIS (an explanation of GBIF's data integration activities)

Mary Barkworth Mary at BIOLOGY.USU.EDU
Wed Jun 23 09:13:35 CDT 2004

"Many different groups will be able to develop the tools that meet their
particular needs.  This will be made possible because GBIF is using
well-defined standards and protocols, and encouraging the development of
reusable, open-source software components."
The operative phrase here seems to be "*will* be made possible". Having
just gone to the GBIF Web site and looked under standards, many seem to
be under development. 
As a plant taxonomist, what disturbs me is the number of references that
we need available as digital files but that are currently available only
as hard copy or for looking up a single record at a time, e.g., BPH,
IPNI, Authors of Plant Names.  I appreciate that one likes to be able to
sell products - I am longing to receive the first royalty check for FNA
vol. 25 - but making resources available on line does not preclude
selling hard copies. Most of the content of FNA 25 (and other published
volumes of the series) are available on line but many people still find
it handy to have a hard copy available.  I suspect the same would be
true of the three references cited above. 
The failure of IPNI to have developed the kind of collaborative
structure mentioned in an earlier email by someone (sorry - forget who)
is particularly disturbing in view of the promises made at the
International botanical Congress in St. Louis in 1999.  I hope the
leaders of IPNI will be able to state next year in Vienna that they have
implemented and made visible information about questions that have been
raised and addressed concerning particular names. Kanchi Gandhi provides
fantastic feedback to those of us engaged in the Flora of North America
project, checking the validity and legitimacy of individual names, often
in consultation with other members of IAPT's nomenclatural committee. He
also quickly corrects any of the Gray Card entries that need it. Gerrit
Davidse at MO is also quick to correct any errors that are brought to
his attention. Unfortunately the questions themselves and the reasons
for the answers given do not appear anywhere, making it likely that the
same questions will be asked again and again. I know this last is true;
I have done it myself. It would be nice to be spared the embarrassment
of asking the same question twice - and to spare Kanchi the effort of
looking up his earlier response.  More importantly, no question should
have to be looked into more than once. My understanding from the
presentation at St. Louis was that IPNI would be providing the kind of
information to help ensure that would be the case. Did I misunderstand
or ?

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