[Taxacom] decline and fall of taxonomy

Bob Mesibov mesibov at southcom.com.au
Mon Jun 15 18:12:39 CDT 2009

Hi, Fabian.

I think your Web page discussion is an excellent snapshot of the situation (and people's biases) at the turn of the 21st century. Your picture of who the users are and what they want is particularly good. It's clear from that picture (and IMO has been clear for some time) that the massive data aggregation projects of the past few years have been supplier-driven efforts without much thought given to exactly who would consume the results and for what purposes.

However, you hedge a little by saying

"As shown in other areas of endeavour, the more useable the information produced, the more demand for the information is generated and hence the increase in support for the science."

By 'information' I assume you mean 'taxonomic results', so I don't see how this works. The market for specialist field and taxonomic guides is very limited. How many copies could I sell of a 'Guide to the Rotifers of the Korean Peninsula', no matter how easy to use it was? As you point out early in your piece, it's only a very small proportion of the world's biota that interests non-taxonomists in general. Specialist taxonomic results might be of interest to a few naturalists and biologists, but those people aren't going to eagerly demand more results, and they aren't going to lobby their politicians to increase funding for work on the taxon of interest. Can you explain, then, what you meant in the quote (above)?
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
Website: http://www.qvmag.tas.gov.au/mesibov.html

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