[Taxacom] ITIS, Species 2000, etc.

Charles Hussey c.hussey at nhm.ac.uk
Wed May 30 10:10:22 CDT 2007


Taking up G.B. Edwards' theme, but directed to the technical folk
inhabiting TAXACOM:

There was a demonstrator product developed under the Semantic Web
Advanced Development- Europe programme (SWAD-E)
http://www.w3.org/2001/sw/Europe/ called the Semantic Web Environment
Directory (SWED) http://www.swed.org.uk/, which developed a method that
would be well suited to documenting all the various
biodiversity/taxonomic initiatives.

SWED works by providing a web form where an organisation or project can
enter details of who it is and what it does. They then get back an RDF
file which they put on (their own) public-facing server. This gets
harvested by SWED (and is also visible to other RDF-aware applications).
The point is that the organisations retain control of their own
descriptions and can keep them updated as necessary whilst SWED provides
a useful way of searching and categorising the projects.

best wishes,

Charles Hussey,

Science Data Co-ordinator,
Data and Digital Systems Team,
Library and Information Services,
Natural History Museum,
Cromwell Road,
London SW7 5BD
United Kingdom

Tel. +44 (0)207 942 5213
Fax. +44 (0)207 942 5559
e-mail c.hussey at nhm.ac.uk
Species Dictionary project: www.nhm.ac.uk/nbn/
Nature Navigator: www.nhm.ac.uk/naturenavigator/ 

-----Original Message-----
From: taxacom-bounces at mailman.nhm.ku.edu
[mailto:taxacom-bounces at mailman.nhm.ku.edu] On Behalf Of Edwards, G.B.
Sent: 30 May 2007 15:46
To: taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu
Subject: Re: [Taxacom] ITIS, Species 2000, etc.

I appreciate the comments of Anna, Mary, Rich, Rod and others on this
subject, and the information links provided, but in many cases, those
are for the one organization each is most associated with.  Not that
this isn't useful, but...

Seems to me what we need is an Encyclopedia of Taxonomic Initiatives (or
maybe a Reader's Digest Version) which would give us the acronym or
title, what it means, what it's purpose is, where it's located, and who
it's contact people are (see those listed below plus a "whole host of
other initiatives", many of which have come up in subsequent
discussions).  Also needed is a glossary of acronyms used within each
organization.  Obviously people who are already involved know what these
initiatives are, but I suspect there are many others who might want to
be involved in something, but don't want to wade through looking up the
specs for a bunch of organizations to find one that seems to fit what
they would be willing to do.  Not to mention how helpful it would be to
know the most appropriate place to go for a particular type of taxonomic
information, or to find out that there actually is an organization that
databases some obscure group.  Yes, you can Google, but then you're
still wading through thousands of responses, and you'll probably miss
some of the initiatives.  There are just too many for any one person to
keep track of.
 
How about if the organizers of every initiative send in their
information to a central website which can then be made available to
everyone (offers to host?).  Maybe some of the paralysis will be lifted
if people know what their options are.  Might bring some of those
private collections into the fold.  Might even be a good start to
organizing the taxonomic community.
--
G. B. Edwards
Florida State Collection of Arthropods

...One of the goals of the Encyclopedia of Life is to work with groups
like uBio, GBIF, ITIS, Species2000, IPNI, Index Fungorum, ZooBank, BHL,
and a whole host of other initiatives who deal with taxonomic names to
establish what David Remsen of GBIF calls the "BIG Index" (I'll defer to
David for elaboration of the name).  This would be a giant index of
these "usage instances", or the "facts" of taxonomy, as I defined them
above (e.g., Smith, 2001, treated "Aus xus" as a junior synonym of "Aus
bus").
Building
such a comprehensive index is a monumental task, far outside the scope
of any single initiative like ITIS or Species2000 or most of the others.
But
it's not outside the scope of the collective taxonomic community as a
whole; which is why ideas like All Species, GBIF's ECAT, and EoL (the
latter being the most robustly funded) are so fundamentally important to
serve as a "flag pole" around which we can all congregate and coordinate
our efforts.
...

I share your feeling that paralysis is the usual response. What
continually astounds me is how little people are aware of the groundwork
that already exists. Most of the issues (GUIDs, generating identifiers,
searching based on journal metadata) have already been solved, in some
cases (SICIs, OpenURL) a decade ago.

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