Names for BioDiv Informatics

Richard Pyle deepreef at BISHOPMUSEUM.ORG
Tue Feb 1 09:55:50 CST 2005

I don't at all disagree with David's comments -- in fact, I agree with them
wholeheartedly. My earlier remarks were in a more specific context
(priorities for practicing taxonomists; not necessarily for biologists in
general or the world at large).  In fact, the more I've been thinking about
it lately, the more I believe that the optimal path to a utopian master list
of code-compliant names is via an "all names" project of the sort David
describes.  Before you can have a list of Code-compliant names, you first
need an extensive list of candidate text-strings.  With that, tools can be
built to allow the international taxonomic community to collectively
value-add to the larger list of names to "fortify" them with the information
necessary to determine code compliance.

I think the real key is to make this a community effort -- accross the
entire taxonomic/biological community.  If done well. the gathering effort
need not wait for the vetting process to be complete, nor woulf the vetting
process need to wait for the gathering to be complete.  Both can grow in
tandem, benefiting from the progress made in the other.


> -----Original Message-----
> From: Taxacom Discussion List [mailto:TAXACOM at LISTSERV.NHM.KU.EDU]On
> Behalf Of David J Patterson
> Sent: Tuesday, February 01, 2005 4:44 AM
> Subject: Names for BioDiv Informatics
> In regard to prioritizing names-related tasks, priorities need to be
> determined in the context of purpose.  An emphasis on code-compliant names
> (Rich's top priority) is appropriate but only in some contexts.   We hear
> that FishBase gets about 80% of its hits from colloquial names, not
> code-compliant names.   Vetting names for code-compliancy is slowing the
> process of building up a global compilation of names
> (
> 422/n6933/full/422661a_fs.html)
> and will deny the emergence of an array of services for very many
> years.  There are other and faster routes to names gathering that can
> bypass the bottlenecks.  A more extensive compilation of names serves
> certain contexts much better than a small subset of all names.  The two
> parameters (rate and code-compliancy) are not mutually exclusive.
>  Both can
> be achieved in the same environment by placing the rate-limiting step of
> vetting to a later stage in the process.
> If we are discussing Biodiversity Informatics, perhaps we should be trying
> to categorize the various contexts (services) we hope to provide, then
> identify those elements that have informatics value, and agree on which
> elements will serve which context best.
> In promoting tools to index and organize information across web sites, I
> have found that my top priority was to gather generic names, followed by
> gathering species names (which can now be enhanced using the
> genus names to
> assist the process), then colloquial names, and then vetting and mapping.
> David J Patterson
> The Josephine Bay Paul Center in Comparative Molecular Biology
> and Evolution
> Marine Biological Laboratory
> 7 MBL Street
> Woods Hole
> Massachusetts 02543
> Ph:   1 508 289 7260
> FAX: 1 508 457 4727

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