[Taxacom] eol in nature [SEC=UNCLASSIFIED]

Jim Croft jrc at anbg.gov.au
Fri Sep 7 00:39:24 CDT 2007

What you describe below Rich is the Holy Grail of biodiversity
informatics: the magic universal temporal and spatial resolution of names
and taxonomic concepts.  We all want it.

A problem I have with the EOL rhetoric to date is the embedded glib
simplicity that by presenting people with lists of cross referenced names
they will be able to get what they want/need.  To the non-taxonomists it
sounds so plausible, but for those who are still lookng for this magic
bullet it smells of snake oil.

What I would like EOL (and other) taxonomy marketeers to say is: "this
name/concept thing is a *BIG* issue, its legacy is crippling our domain, 
it is going to take a lot of work, time and resources to sort out and  
implement, both in information structure and data content, so in the
meantime you are going to have to make do with the ambiguous implicit
taxonomy implied by the names that we give you - it is not the truth, but
it will do for the moment. Heck, it has not done too bad a job for the
last quarter of a millenium, a few more years is not going to kill you."

The concern I have is that the PR so far implies that mapping synonyms to
accepted names will tell all and enable all.  I am worried that the real
information management problem is going to left behind as people get
carried away with the hype, the facade and pom-poms before there is
anything to show.

(I will leave the interesting matter of perceived sugar coating taxonomy
for special interest groups for another discussion :)


> Taking your example of linking a Protonym to a subsequent name usage, I'm
> getting tired of having to make this association multiple times (once for
> Bishop Museum's database, once for PBIN/NBII, once for ITIS, once for
> Species 2000, once for the Catalog of Fishes, once for FishBase, once for
> GBIF, once for ZooBank....etc., etc.)  I want an infrastructure that allows
> me to do this ONCE PERIOD, and have every dataset of relevance know about it
> automatically.  The tools and protocols that TDWG and GBIF and EoL (each
> with their respective roles) are all aiming for, and getting closer to, will
> allow for the creation of such an infrastructure. One of the mantras of the
> All-Species Foundation was "Once digitized, always available".  The point
> being, we have been wasting LOTS of time repeating the same effort over and
> over again, simply because our digitization efforts have not been adequately
> coordinated.

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