[Taxacom] Linnaeus' first insect = wrong question

Chris Lyal C.lyal at nhm.ac.uk
Tue Jan 29 10:50:05 CST 2008

One point to note about the question is that it was not one which the
developers of the systems in question had expected to be asked.  

As we develop our bioinformatics tools, there is a strong impetus to use
'traditional' entry points such as a search on a taxonomic (or common)
name, or on an author, or a citation.  We might enable restriction by
additional criteria - geographical perhaps, or date of publication.  All
of this presupposes an appropriate understanding of the user
requirements of the systems.  

For the INOTAXA project, in which we are developing a method of
accessing and digitised taxonomic literature and the data embedded
within it, we recently carried out a user needs survey of different
communities we believed would wish to use the system.  Their needs
broadly overlapped, but even so there are some functionalities that we
had to defer building in favour of others with a greater user base.  We
did not, I think, consider "which was the first", although I think we
will be able to answer the question with some more or less tortuous
search and sort routines.  

The point is that as we build systems we need to keep in mind who the
users are, what they will want and how they will want it, and how they
will phrase their questions.


Christopher H. C. Lyal,
Department of Entomology,
The Natural History Museum,
Cromwell Road,
London SW7 5BD

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