[Taxacom] Encyclopedia of Life & Taxonomist Funding

Frans Janssens frans.janssens at advalvas.be
Sat May 12 08:42:51 CDT 2007

Let us dream a bit further. ;-)
At the physical level, the internet has implemented an infrastructure to give each computer connected to the internet a unique
'name'. At the more abstract level, a similar infrastructure (the Domain Name System (DNS)) exists to give each 'internet domain' a
unique name.
It should be possible to use this already existing infrastructure in the sense of "one domain for each species".
Each domain name comprises at minimum a 'second-level' part and a top-level part: secondlevel.toplevel
The top-level part could be an existing TopLevelDomain, such as 'info'.
Or better a new and dedicated TLD could be created, such as 'iczn', to represent the nomenclature followed.
The second-level part could be used to implement the genus name.
entomobrya.iczn would then be the domain name associated with the genus Entomobrya.
Species can then be implemented as subdomains:
nivalis.entomobrya.iczn would be the domain name associated with the species Entomobrya nivalis.
Subspecies can be implemented as subsubdomains, etc...

In this way each species is associated with a URL refering to the "one page of that species".
http://nivalis.entomobrya.iczn would then point to the unique species page for Entomobrya nivalis.

Suprageneric taxon names can be defined in the same way as the genera.
entomobryidae.iczn = the family Entomobryidae, providing the links to all genera of Entomobryidae.
Parent child relationships between taxa such as the relation family - genus could also be implemented more formely in the DNS such
as entomobrya.entomobryidae.iczn
In this way the full taxonomic hierarchy could be implemented in the DNS. Then with the help of a dedicated taxonomic browser, this
hierarchy could be accessed in a flexible way. A la 'geographic browser' of Google to browse geographic maps.

As a side-effect of using the existing DNS, registration of taxon names (and parent child relationships between taxa) is then
automatically, implicitely and formely implemented... And yes, authority data is included.

Some more ideas:
Synonyms: could be implemented using the existing technique of redirection or URL forwarding. Visitors do not have to know the
status of the name. They are transparently redirected/forwarded to the valid name.
Recombinations: after creating the new domain name of the new combination, the domain of the old combination could be redirected to
that of the new one as with synonyms.
Homonyms: it is impossible to create identical domain names in the DNS. Therefore homonomy is inhibited from then onwards.
Alternative taxonomies (read: alternative parent child relationships) can coexist in the DNS. The taxonomic browser could present 
the alternatives, if/when present.
Both Linnean (with emphasis on ranking) and cladistic (with emphasis on parent child relationships) taxonomies could be implemented 
in the DNS.

The big advantadge of using such a system is that an addition or a change in the taxonomy is available at once for all using a very 
formal method.

Sweet dreams ;-)

Frans Janssens

Faunaplan at aol.com wrote:

>>>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 
> to GBIF
> - 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
> -------------------
> Wolfgang Lorenz
> Faunistics & Environmental Planning
> Hoermannstr. 4
> D-82327 Tutzing
> Germany

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