[Taxacom] encylopedia of life [SEC=UNCLASSIFIED][Scanned]

Paul Kirk p.kirk at cabi.org
Fri May 11 07:27:10 CDT 2007


That will certainly be achieved if the tool EoL builds for taxonomists will wean us from the "thin sheets of wood with a black powder stuck to it" generated from our trusty word processor.

When Homo sapiens learnt to communicate it was through the medium of sound. Next came writing which could be disseminated much further via ink on paper. Unfortunately that's where we have sort of stalled in delivering new biodiversity information (the Codes at least outlawed new names proposed verbally ...). What is needed is a digital environment where we remaining systematists can work such that it will allow everyone on the planet connected to the internet, once we 'sign off' on an observation, photograph, description, gene sequence, species revision, monograph or whatever, to see and use these new data, instantly.

Just a vision, hope I live to see it.
Dr Paul M. Kirk
CABI UK Centre (Egham)
Bakeham Lane
TW20 9TY
United Kingdom
Telephone: +44 (0) 1491 829023
Fax: +44 (0) 1491 829100
Email: p.kirk at cabi.org

-----Original Message-----
From: taxacom-bounces at mailman.nhm.ku.edu [mailto:taxacom-bounces at mailman.nhm.ku.edu] On Behalf Of James L. Edwards
Sent: 11 May 2007 13:17
To: jrc at anbg.gov.au
Cc: 'Richard Zander'; taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu
Subject: Re: [Taxacom] encylopedia of life [SEC=UNCLASSIFIED][Scanned]

Actually, the Encyclopedia of Life is going to take a similar approach.

Whenever possible we will use a consensus taxonomy, such as the ones
promulgated by Species 2000 and ITIS. (Where there isn't a consensus, we
will work with other groups to try to achieve a consensus.) The consensus
view will be the one presented to the general public. But we also intend
to include alternative classifications for those who wish to use them. We
want the EOL to be a tool for working taxonomists, not just a resource for
the general public.

Jim Edwards

> Richard - you might want to keep your eye on the developing 'Australian
> Plant Census', built on the Australian Plant Name Index.
> This is a collaborative project of the Australian botanical community,
> working through the c. 20k vascular plant species one family at a time,
> accounting for all names and synonyms, considering and documenting
> alternative taxonomies, and extracting by consensus a taxonomy considered
> most appropriate to be used at a national level.  The selected view is not
> always the latest, and there is no compulsion on anyone to use this view -
> it is just there as the 'assessed best guess' based on available
> information, for those who wish to use it.
> So far, the project has been going very well, there has been very little
> deadlocking and 'dying in the ditch' and it is possible that the first
> pass
> will be completed in a year or so.
> As a result of this exercise in collaboration we are achieving some
> convergence of views and understanding across the country and we are a
> getting a better handle on where the real taxonomic pinch points are which
> will help focus future research.  It turns out that we are not on as many
> different pages as we thought we were - and were we are on different pages
> we are learning where and why we are.  We will soon be able to let you
> know
> how much of the taxonomy of the Australian vascular plant flora is
> currently
> in dispute - guesstimates have ranged between 5% and 20%.  This will not
> tell us of course how much it is just plain wrong.  :)
> We are about to start a project mapping different taxonomic systems to
> each
> other.  We are hoping that when this is in place being on different pages
> might not matter quite as much as we thought it did.
> What we are trying to achieve is 'a' view, rather than 'one' view.
> jim
> -----Original Message-----
> From: taxacom-bounces at mailman.nhm.ku.edu
> [mailto:taxacom-bounces at mailman.nhm.ku.edu] On Behalf Of Richard Zander
> Sent: Friday, 11 May 2007 7:29 AM
> To: Bjarte.Jordal at bio.uib.no; Frederick W. Schueler
> Cc: taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu
> Subject: Re: [Taxacom] encylopedia of life
> There's a major problem with a wiki natural history of Earth. Clearly
> space should be made for conflicting opinions between specialists. For
> instance MUST the most recent specialists always trump the older ones;
> that is, is science ALWAYS built on the work of those who come before
> and therefore be incrementally better and progressive, or is it
> sometimes just wrong? How to judge?
> Or between groups at loggerheads, like Coders versus Phylocoders, like
> those who follow APG and those who don't, or like you and everyone else?
> : )
> At some point, it should be easy to make a choice within EofL of which
> elements to follow, just as we select certain identification manuals to
> consult and avoid others.
> To avoid monolithic structure, the EofL needs to be more than a wiki
> kind of compilation since that assumes consensus or at least progress
> toward one truth, while real-life science offers a series of parallel
> judgments and often clear explanation of how those judgments differ, and
> results in several models of "what is out there." Or am I being overly
> postmodern here?
> ******************************
> Richard H. Zander
> Voice: 314-577-0276
> Missouri Botanical Garden
> PO Box 299
> St. Louis, MO 63166-0299 USA
> richard.zander at mobot.org
> Web sites: http://www.mobot.org/plantscience/resbot/
> and http://www.mobot.org/plantscience/bfna/bfnamenu.htm
> For FedEx and UPS use:
> Missouri Botanical Garden
> 4344 Shaw Blvd.
> St. Louis, MO 63110
> ******************************
>> However, once data are in
>> the
>> databases and properly curated, these data will be there for
> ethernity, or
>> eventually until the specialist revise the species page
>> Bjarte Jordal (PhD)
>> Department of Biology
>> University of Bergen
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          - Jim

Dr. James L. Edwards
Executive Secretary
Global Biodiversity Information Facility
Universitetsparken 15
DK-2100 Copenhagen Ø

Phone:  +45 3532 1470
Fax:      +45 3532 1480

E-mail:   jedwards at gbif.org
URL:      www.gbif.org

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