[Taxacom] globalnames?

Stephen Thorpe s.thorpe at auckland.ac.nz
Wed Sep 16 17:32:13 CDT 2009


[Paul said] That is very well as a general sales pitch, but the succes of any informatics project depends on how well the structure conforms to the process it is supposed to automatize. For years and years, newspapers have brought stories of beautiful and costly informatics projects that failed to take account of the topic they were supposed to address and that were complete failures, being closed down, one
after the other, without having achieved anything at all. What appears to be happening here is the creation of extra 'raw material' that will have to be cleaned up at some point in future. It strikes the fear into me that a few more projects like this and the mass of 'informatics-generated' raw material will have reached the point where it itself presents an unsurmountable problem? 

[reply] I agree with Paul. Since I am already being "marginalised" for straight-talking, instead of just "talking the talk", I shall continue to do so: 
>as a general sales pitch ... without having achieved anything at all
Not quite without anything at all! The two parts of the quote are linked. Let's face it, ONE of the main aims of any informatics project is to keep people in paid employment for a while. If a project is eventually canned, then all is not lost, and let's just move on to the next one! Note that I am NOT saying that the people involved in any informatics project are ONLY interested in lining their own pockets! My own, albeit limited knowledge of how some actual bioinformatics projects operate is probably quite typical. The strategy seems to be to leave all the difficult data availability/data interpretation/data quality issues until the end, in the hope that they can be solved "somehow", and prioritise the creation of an "infrastructure" to handle the data storage, manipulation, and user interface. The reason for this being that this stuff shows relatively concrete progress to satisfy funders that the project is well on it's way, and lots of work has been done already. As something of an analogy, it is a bit like jumping out of a plane with a parachute and an instruction book on what to do next, and hoping like heck that you manage to find and read the relevant bit before hitting the ground! Though at least you can just walk away from an informatics project that has "hit the ground"...

________________________________________
From: taxacom-bounces at mailman.nhm.ku.edu [taxacom-bounces at mailman.nhm.ku.edu] On Behalf Of dipteryx at freeler.nl [dipteryx at freeler.nl]
Sent: Thursday, 17 September 2009 1:13 a.m.
To: taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu
Subject: Re: [Taxacom] globalnames?

Van: David Patterson [mailto:paddy at eol.org]
Verzonden: wo 16-9-2009 13:49

>Before you can fix problems, you need to know what they are.

>This listing serves minimally two masters, the taxonomist
>and the informatician.  The informatician must be aware of
>every 'string' that has been used as a name and therefore points
>to some potentially useful piece of information.  Within the
>totality of all strings lies a subset of interest to the taxonomist.
>Team taxonomy (the sum of all active taxonomists past and present)
>has a suite of rules to follow, but within them there remains
>considerable latitude.  The GN thing is intended to develop into
>an infrastructure that will serve all users equally well, and
>because of this, it has to be inclusive of different points of view
>and solutions.  It can achieve that through modularity.  At the
>core lies the GNI module - the list of all names.  [...]

>The progress from raw material to a structure that meets all our
>needs will be a long haul, will take much time, good will, and
>participation.  But, the benefits of a biology integrated through a
>semantic names-based infrastructure make the walk well worth while,
>as are the conversations that accompany the promenade.

>David Patterson

***
That is very well as a general sales pitch, but the succes of any
informatics project depends on how well the structure conforms to
the process it is supposed to automatize. For years and years,
newspapers have brought stories of beautiful and costly informatics
projects that failed to take account of the topic they were supposed
to address and that were complete failures, being closed down, one
after the other, without having achieved anything at all.

What appears to be happening here is the creation of extra 'raw
material' that will have to be cleaned up at some point in future.
It strikes the fear into me that a few more projects like this and
the mass of 'informatics-generated' raw material will have reached
the point where it itself presents an unsurmountable problem?

Paul


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