[Taxacom] encylopedia of life [SEC=UNCLASSIFIED]

jrc jrc at anbg.gov.au
Fri May 11 03:28:34 CDT 2007

In order to keep what you have, the first thing you need to know is what it
is, and little things like what it looks like, what it does and where it is
(or has been)...  It would seem to be sort of handy to have a system that
documents this stuff... 

Sharpening the axe helps if you want to fell the tree... 


-----Original Message-----
From: taxacom-bounces at mailman.nhm.ku.edu
[mailto:taxacom-bounces at mailman.nhm.ku.edu] On Behalf Of John Grehan
Sent: Thursday, 10 May 2007 11:49 PM
To: Julian H; Donat Agosti; taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu
Subject: Re: [Taxacom] encylopedia of life

I would rather have seen this money going to keeping what we have.
Documenting everything as it goes extinct seems to me to be like bean

John Grehan 

-----Original Message-----
From: taxacom-bounces at mailman.nhm.ku.edu
[mailto:taxacom-bounces at mailman.nhm.ku.edu] On Behalf Of Julian H
Sent: Thursday, May 10, 2007 9:46 AM
To: Donat Agosti; taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu
Subject: Re: [Taxacom] encylopedia of life

I read a number of different stories on this yesterday and saw widely
varying figures on funding:

$12.5 million USD (oneworld.net and the eol.org press release) $50
million pounds (BBC news)

and now $50 million USD.

Does anybody know for sure what their actual funding is?  Is all this
money for informatics infrastructure, scanning, etc? Or will this
trickle down and scientists will be paid to write accounts?  Just

At 08:31 AM 5/10/2007, Donat Agosti wrote:
>Yesterday was the launch of the Encyclopedia of Life
>(http://eol.org/home.html) initiative here in DC, which clearly will 
>affect taxonomy and provide much better access to our well hidden 
>knowledge about our species. The project as such is supported by USD50M

>for the next five years, with a likely extension for another 5 years. 
>It is great, that the money could be raised from MacArthur Foundation 
>(with the lion0s share), the Sloan Foundation and support from the five

>core institutions, Harvard, The Field Museum, Smithsonian, Marin 
>Biological Lab and Missouri Botanical Garden. The idea is to have 
>within these 10 years for each of the 1.8M species its specific page.
>In an interesting way, the participants at the official launch 
>represent - at least for me - the main challenge of this the project: 
>Getting content. I could hardly figure out any active scientist in the 
>crowd. These are the people who actually are building up content, like
fishbase or antbase.
>Populating the database is so far generally a truly bottom up movement,

>done by individuals and with little support from the respective
> >From a different angle, and also in a different time with much more 
> >digital
>tools at hand, the commitment from the core institutions could signal a

>longlasting shift in this policy, that they became aware, that building

>up species databases, their underlying catalogues, etc. are a 
>quintessential element in modern research environment, and need be 
>supported similarily to maintaining libraries, GenBank, etc.
>This in turn reflects a new development, such as the OECD declaration
>(http://www.oecd.org/dataoecd/9/61/38500813.pdf) to provide open access

>to publicly funded research data. This is again an initiative at top 
>level (Governments).
>What is needed now is that we define the needs for our work. We need to

>talk to the responsibles in these initiatives so that their decisions 
>really reflect what we need, reflect the way we operate, so part of the

>outcome the EOL or OECD initiatives help us to work more efficiently, 
>as much as it provides a much higher profile for our work. We need to 
>assure, that the initiatives not only reflects the idea of the current 
>core US institutions, but the needs of our colleagues in Europe or the 
>developing world. We also need to assure, that initiatives such as 
>GBIF, IABIN, are not being outcompeted but rather form together a 
>superstructure. These initiatives are global, and thus affect all of
>For example, a really important part of the project will be the 
>Biodiversity Heritage Library (http://www.bhl.si.edu/). Clearly, not 
>all the works can be digitized at once, so selection of bodies of 
>literature should happen, to support ongoing research projects and show

>the benefit of it. Why not propose to scan all the journals with 
>content on Madagascar, reef fishes or other topics, where there is a 
>strong research and conservation community behind?
>Don't sit around, read, be pro-active and voice your concerns and 
>wishes, use your blogs.. It is clear, that even the 100M will not 
>suffice to satisfy all of our dreams, but it is clearly a jumping board
into a new age.
>Donat Agosti
>Taxacom mailing list
>Taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu

Julian Humphries
Geological Sciences
University of Texas at Austin
Austin, TX 78712

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