[Taxacom] dissapearing data

Richard Pyle deepreef at bishopmuseum.org
Fri Nov 7 20:49:39 CST 2008

> With the major push towards electronic-only publishing of the 
> business and data of taxonomy, persistence of our resources 
> and results would have to be one of our biggest challenges.  
> And by persistence I mean *always and forever* being able to 
> find the thing by the same route/URI.

There's an old joke that keeps coming back in the context of conversations
such as these:

Two guys walking in the woods, and a big nasty bear starts charging them.
One guy gets ready to bolt, and the other guy sits down and puts on his
running shoes. The first guy says, "Are you crazy?? You'll never out-run
that bear!"  The second guy says, "I don't have to out-run the bear; I only
have to out-run YOU."

There's a similar joke involving two divers, a knife, and a really big

The point is this:  Electronically-archived taxonomic acts do not need to
last "always and forever"; they only need to last (and be accessible) as
well as, or better than, the average paper-based publication.  Looking at my
book shelf, I (unfortunately) do not see an original copy of Linnaeus, 1758.
A quick jaunt to BHL via my web browser, though.....

So maybe this is just a quirky anomaly of this moment in history -- fair
enough.  We won't really know for sure until another 250 years from now
which of the two versions of the description of Chromis abyssus is more
easily accessed (one of the paper copies, or the electronic version).

I honestly don't know which technology will win (paper or electrons).  The
electron-based solution surely seems to have the edge in terms of
*potential* for a better future (at least for anyone born after about 1967
-- i.e., those who had the opportunity to grow up with computers from a
reasonably early age), but it lacks a signficant track record.  

Sort of parallels the arguments made concerning the new president-elect of
our country.  If the analogy runs any deeper than this, then my money is
definitely on the elections!   

Errr..I mean electrons.....


Richard L. Pyle, PhD
Database Coordinator for Natural Sciences
  and Associate Zoologist in Ichthyology
Department of Natural Sciences, Bishop Museum
1525 Bernice St., Honolulu, HI 96817
Ph: (808)848-4115, Fax: (808)847-8252
email: deepreef at bishopmuseum.org

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