[Taxacom] Proposed Amendment to the Code

Bob Mesibov mesibov at southcom.com.au
Mon Dec 21 17:25:14 CST 2009

I second George Garrity's comment about the wording of proposed Article 78.2.4 and the issue of who will maintain the Official Register:

"...the Commission needs to either decide to take on this task in an official and responsible manner, using proven technology, or suffer the consequences of allowing others to take on the task outside of their control."

I also support Noela Bajjali's comment:

"If the Code permitted new animal names to be published in online publications that could demonstrate that they were subject to deposit with a national library or other established collecting body, this should ensure longer-term accessibility of the publication as the collecting institution would address the issue of long-term
preservation formats and storage. This would be likely, of course, to exclude the small ‘self-published’ e-publications, some with only a very short life-span, and perhaps reduce the risk of accepting taxonomy published within publications with less rigorous editorial review or publishing standards."

except that I would replace her word 'permitted' in the first sentence with 'required'. e-publication is much, much easier than paper publication. We don't want to replace the current large number of print outlets for taxonomic publications with an even larger number of e-outlets. There is an argument that e-outlets are easier to locate than print ones because they are all somewhere on the Net and a certain large American corporation can find them for us in a second or two. This is a naive extrapolation of the online world of the past ca 10-15 years into a long and uncertain future. A safer approach is to tie e-publication to e-archiving as tightly as possible. The simplest way to do this is to restrict availability of names, etc to those in online publications with demonstrated links to information repositories. The widely used journals Zootaxa and ZooKeys already do this. The ICZN should compile and maintain a list of such journals.

Yes, this would be a restriction on a taxonomists' freedom to publish in whatever journal they like. On the other hand, it would encourage online journals to take the easy steps necessary to properly archive what they publish, in order to get on the ICZN's approved list. This would mean more choice for taxonomists.

I also strongly support Garrity's comment that XML is a wiser choice for digital archiving than PDF. It's also a wiser choice for publication in future, even if XML evolves. The principle that presentation and content should be separated is a sound one and allows all non-image content to be reduced to ASCII text. This is how other authors' content is delivered to us by our Web browsers, and how authors should, in future, be delivering content to the servers our browsers access. The tight coupling of presentation and content which began with handwriting and lingers today in word processing software is an anachronism in the online world.
Dr Robert Mesibov
Honorary Research Associate
Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery, and
School of Zoology, University of Tasmania
Home contact: PO Box 101, Penguin, Tasmania, Australia 7316
(03) 64371195; 61 3 64371195
Webpage: http://www.qvmag.tas.gov.au/mesibov.html

More information about the Taxacom mailing list