[Taxacom] Encyclopedia of Life & Taxonomist Funding

Faunaplan at aol.com Faunaplan at aol.com
Sat May 12 04:20:19 CDT 2007

>>The internet is littered with largely content-free biodiversity sites<<

Alex Wild's comment reflects my own sentiments... 
however, a wonderful spring weekend stimulates some hopeful musings in my 
little people's mind:
The idea "one page for each species" sounds so clear and straightforward, - 
why not try an equally simple focus on attracting content from a knowledgeable 
community as wide as possible, not restricted to a few more or less privileged 
(but mostly over-worked)  taxonomists based in museums? (and, yes, taxonomy 
will be but a part of it, as Rod said).

Say,  "50 dollars for a species page", - even if that's just symbolic to some 
extent, - but it could justify an expectation like 1 Million pages for 50 
Million investment. Define the minimum requirements an acceptable species page 
must meet (info on type material, complete synonymy, global distribution 
overview, literature links, etc.), set up a review mechanism (say, each new species 
page will stay in a  review phase for 6 months); focus on such taxonomic groups 
where at least a provisional global "consensus classification" is available 
and fit for use; exclude such species (at least in the first approach) where 
there is nothing but a single publication on type material and the page author 
cannot add anything new.  Avoid high costs for  IT infrastructure (a lot of 
tools are already there, I think, why does it cost millions?[layman's musings]), 
but basically let the googles do the searches on "EoL + species name" (I 
imagine the "educational" value for googlers who will learn there's one central 
content website for each species! Sounds to me as if it fits in Google's business 
interests!?). ... so, maybe, a concise "50 dollars" plan could also attract 
sponsorships from outside? 

I imagine there should be tight links between the other major but more 
specialized web projects:
- occurrence data needed for the global distribution map should be provided 
- names can be shared with uBio, GBIF's Electronic Catalogue of Names, 
Species2000, etc. (and projects like ZooBank could help with the CODE-compliance 
check for names).
- literature citations could be standardized if we had resolvable GUIDs 
served by another web project based in one of the world's major libraries...
- etc.

In this way, EoL could play the role of a central showcase for the wider 
audience displaying in a standard format our up-to-date knowledge, combining more 
detailed informations from other projects. 
And when looking at the coverage of climate change issues in the mass media, 
I believe we also need a better informed journalism on biodiversity issues! 
Instead of communicating such vague estimates like "one species gets extinct per 
day", let's try to get the real picture on species occurrences... (thinking 
of the "Ecological Democracy" issue, etc.). In this context, EoL could also 
become something like a global showcase for species monitoring, e.g., with a 
dynamic up-to-date world gridmap for each species that is combined with a little 
data table displaying the last year a species has been recorded in each of the 
1-degree grid cells... The tools are already there to do this, now we must 
attract the content.

Well... just dreams for a weekend?

P.S.: I didn't see George Beccaloni's posting before writing mine...

Best wishes,
Wolfgang Lorenz
Faunistics & Environmental Planning
Hoermannstr. 4
D-82327 Tutzing

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