[Taxacom] Proposed ICZN amendments on electronic publishing

Richard Pyle deepreef at bishopmuseum.org
Fri Dec 5 21:37:41 CST 2008

> >...  If I had to guess, I suspect that PDF file resoution  software 
> >will be with us for a long time.
> Agree.  But that does not make the practice, even between 
> consenting adults, excusable.

Yes -- that was, in fact, my point (more or less).

> This issue is not whether it is binary or not but how much 
> and how complex is the technology required to get it from the 
> stored form to the human form, which in this case is the 
> alphanumerpunctobet.  This is something we can probably keep 
> in our sights with textual information, but when it comes to 
> digital images and other multimedia there is no equivalent of 
> ASCII and we are already in *deep* trouble.

BMP comes pretty close to ASCII for images; perhaps followed by TIFF.  Of
course, we all like to use JPEG; but like PDF, that requires an extra layer
or interpretation to get it rendered properly.

> > when we move beyond binary computers, there is no doubt in my mind 
> > that there will be ample opportunity to translate the 
> binary-encoded 
> > information into whatever the next fundamental computer information 
> > system is.
> You are quite right... sort of...  with any new technology 
> there will be a mechanism to migrate from the existing to the 
> new - to do
> otherwise would be a suicidal business decision.   The problem is,
> because it is a business model, they will offer the the 
> minimum migration they can get away with.  Thus your solution 
> will only work if you migrate (and test) *everything* - every 
> time.  The reality is (or has been) that in every migration 
> process some things get overlooked and forgotten surviving in 
> the old format until one fine day, 'sorry this format is no 
> longer supported'.  There is a strong analogy in the 
> evolutionary process here that will probably not be lost on 
> Taxacom.  And the more taxonomy we do the more we will have 
> to migrate and test each time.

Not sure I agree -- especially at the ASCII/UTF/XML/BMP level of

> This is happening with us now and I assume it is happening everywhere
> - make a migration to a new system, test a few random (or 
> targetted) instances and assume (and hope) the rest are going 
> to be ok.  

Methinks you are probably talking about migrating platforms, programming
languages, DBMS, complex & robust apps, etc., etc. -- to which everything
you said in the preceeding paragraph applies. If all you're doing is
migrating UTF-8 in XML, then you'll probably be OK.

> With millions of items we can not do otherwise, 
> and if something did not go right it may be years before we 
> stumble on the records in question.
> And as the asset grows, with every iteration the possible QA 
> percentage of the entire data set gets less and less.

Still a whole lot easier/better/more reliable than migrating printed
documents from, say, Cyrillic to English -- which is the paper-based
equivalent to what you are describing.

> > "...let us save what remains: not by vaults and locks which 
> fence them 
> > from the public eye and use in consigning them to the waste 
> of time, 
> > but by such a multiplication of copies, as shall place them 
> beyond the 
> > reach of accident."
> This is a very valid sentiment to quote and we use this 
> strategic principle ourselves.  But it has to be asked, how 
> valuable will be a million copies of something that can not be read?

And this is exactly thr trade-off that is exercising us at the moment.  Oh,

> And this is exactly the trade off that is exercising us at the moment.

Hmmmmm....it almost seems as though my point, and your point are, in fact,
the same point?


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