names vs. "names"

Richard Pyle deepreef at BISHOPMUSEUM.ORG
Wed Feb 9 11:28:41 CST 2005

Hi Nico,

>    I still think that achieving comprehensive name lists is a great
> primary goal for certain groups of players (like uBio). But I am not
> convinced that this is the most pressing issue for Taxonomy to secure
> its place in the future among other biological sciences.

I don't believe that anyone made that claim.  I made a special point to
emphasize that the three layers are not arranged in chronological
importance.  The point is, given that there is a community that needs all
names, and a community that needs only well-vetted Code-compliant names, and
a community that needs mapped taxonomic concepts, it would be utterly
foolish of these three communities not to proceed with tight integration --
or at least common standards and awareness of the other priorities.

Recent history is full of specific-focus projects that were created quickly
and relatively cheaply to serve the needs of a specific user community; but
which eventually collapse.  The reason why efforts such as ABCD and DiGIR
and GBIF and TCS and LinneanCore are so important is that they attempt to
span the scope -- that is, to acknowledge and accomodate a broad range of
user needs that previous projects neglected.  The next step is to get these
middle-tier efforts to  coalesce into a universal mechanism for biological
information exchange.

> To the extent
> that taxonomists are needed in getting the names complete and right
> enough, they are also justified in looking out for themselves in the
> process. Taxonomy's genuine impediments have to do with things other
> than just incomplete or erroneous databases.

No arguments here!!  But I guess my point is that taxonomists should keep an
eye on the long-term, as well as the short-term; because sometimes solutions
that satisfy the latter represent a serious impediment to the former.


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