[Taxacom] Proposed ICZN amendments on electronic publishing

Paul van Rijckevorsel dipteryx at freeler.nl
Fri Dec 5 03:13:40 CST 2008

From: "Richard Pyle" <deepreef at bishopmuseum.org>
Sent: Friday, December 05, 2008 4:50 AM
> ... we should not care about the presentation as much
> as we should care about the information *content*.

>> From: Jim Croft [mailto:jim.croft at gmail.com]
>> Cc: taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu>>
>> ... I am
>> struck with an overwhelming impression that although we claim
>> to be looking to the future, we are actually looking at the past.

It is true that we are looking backwards. It comes with the territority.
Nomenclature is all about looking backwards (the Codes are retroactive),
while serving the needs of the present and the future. For nomenclature, the
way it works now, it is important to have an unalterable document published
at a single point of time. How else to establish priority?

It may be interesting to speculate about an entirely different way to go
about it, with a central register as the only evidence that counts, and the
'original publication' only an entry in a database, but this represents more
than mere evolution of what was here before. It is a complete break with the
established way of doing things, and I would not even dare guess at what the
consequences of such a break would be. It would mean starting all over again
(like the Bacterial Code did, but even more radical, and with a lot more
taxa involved), moving into practically uncharted territority. "Scary" does
not even qualify as an understatement.


But yes, it appears inevitable that we are moving towards ever more
electronic publishing. The large (physical) libraries are handicapped by on
the one hand the need for ever more (expensive) physical storage space, and
by being few and far between (and thus relatively inaccessible) on the other
hand. More and more of the existing literature will migrate to the www,
with a varying degree of accessibility. The large physical library is a
threatened species.

Still, the issue, for the moment, is how to go about creating a electronic
format for this "unalterable document published at a single point of time",
something like a notarized pdf, with an unassailable voucher of authenticity
("unaltered since ..."), preferably readable by a ubiquitous (and simple and
unupdatable) piece of software.

Note that the issue is not only to establish priority, but that a 
publication also establishes other details, some of which will perhaps 
become important only in a future Code (the Codes being retroactive).


More information about the Taxacom mailing list