[Taxacom] globalnames?

Richard Pyle deepreef at bishopmuseum.org
Wed Sep 16 13:01:30 CDT 2009

Hi Paul,

> For a project that is presented as "GNI is meant to collect 
> all Scientific Names" 
> it pays remarkably little attention to scientific names (and 
> their structure).

This is precisely the opposite of correct.

In my estimation, the people developing services behind GNI (I am not among
them) have paid more attention to the structure of scientific names than
probably any taxonomist in history.

How can I say such a seemingly outlandish thing?

Well, for one thing, they have access to more variations in how scientific
names have been structured than any other taxonomist has. About 18 million
of them, in fact.  Where did these names come from?  They came from *us* --
the taxonomists, museum specimen curators, and various taxonomic data
managers of the world (among others).  GNI did not create *any* of these
text strings -- they simply hold a mirror up to us and show us the mess
we've created.

But more directly on the issue of paying attention to the structure of
scientific names, the key services behind GNI include some of the most
robust algorithms ever developed for parsing these text strings into
atomized bits of name "data".  The entire point of these algorithms is to
help clean up *our* mess.  And frankly, I'm *amazed* at how accurate those
algorithms are.  Are they perfect? Well....is anything ever perfect?  Of
course not.  But they are far, far closer to perfect than we, the taxonomic
community, has ever been (a evidenced by 18 million text strings purported
by us to represent a fraction of that number of scientific names).


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