[Taxacom] globalnames?

dipteryx at freeler.nl dipteryx at freeler.nl
Thu Sep 17 04:54:59 CDT 2009

Van: taxacom-bounces at mailman.nhm.ku.edu namens Richard Pyle
Verzonden: do 17-9-2009 11:01
>> I am using the word scientific name in what looks to me 
>> as the accepted way (as indicated at 
>> http://www.globalnames.org/about); that is, taking 
>> "biological" in a fairly strict sense, (excluding many 
>> formalized ways to indicate organisms), this looks to me to 
>> exclude names of viruses (which follow a different logic).

> That's a start...but not specific enough.

> How many names are indicated below?

> Aus bus Linnaues
> Aus buus Linnaues
> Xus bus (Linnaeus)

> To a zoologist, there are three:
> Genus: Aus
> Genus: Xus
> Species: bus

> To a botanist, there are two names (and the orthographic variant 
> Aus buus):
> Aus bus
> Xus bus

OK, I would rather not have gone there, but of course I can be 
more specific. By a scientific name I mean the "scientific name 
of a taxon". That to a zoologist "bus" is also a "species-group 
name" is more or less immaterial, and certainly is confusing.
* * *

>> Obviously, this presents a problem to such projects as GNI in 
>> that strings like 'Faba faba' are not validly published, nor 
>> are many 'manuscript names' scattered through the literature, 
>> although by form they are indistinguishable from actual 
>> scientific names.

> It's not at all a problem for GNI.  The problem is for taxonomists.
> If the text string 'Faba faba' has been purported to represent 
> the scientific name of an organsim (rightly or wrongly), then it 
> exists "in the wild", and may have relevant information 
> associated with it.

And thereby, GNI is likely to be creating more problems than it 
will solve.
* * *

> Yes, and because we taxonomists have been so bloody inconsistent 
> about how we represent those text-strings-purported-to-represent-
> scientific-names, we need services like GNI if we're ever going
> to cross-link all that variation.

Yes, but cross-linking in itself is not going to be bringing 
us any benefits. It merely adds another database to create 
confusion in a world that is not lacking databases that create 
confusion. Why not support those databases that attack the problem 
by a bottom-up approach and wait for them, rather than rushing to
get a quick fix?
* * *

> There are MANY MANY MANY other people out there who ae 
> interested in biodiversity information.  Literature contains
> information about biodiversity.  

No argument here. Certainly that is the case.
* * *

> That information is cross-linked to other information via 
> taxon names.  

You are losing the thread of your argument here. You were 
arguing that the information is cross-linked by text strings, 
not by taxon names...

Anyway, there is very much information that is cross-linked in 
different ways (common names, trade names, etc).
* * *

> A human can read scores of published works, and without much
> difficulty build the cross-links in his or her mind. 

Well, that depends on the human. I have found that many people 
cannot do this.
* * *

> And if we want to continue assimilating information about 
> biodiveristy at the pace we have been for the past couple of 
> hundred years, then that's all we need.  

> But if we'd like to maybe go beyond ink on paper; maybe harness 
> the power of interlinked computer databases to access the broad
> spectrum of biodiveristy information "out there", then we need 
> a way to call upon electronic information management technology 
> to assist us. As it is now, we can't even create a definitive
> list of known species, 

The problem here is not in the absence of databases, but in the
lack of taxonomists, and the lack of budgets to do the necessary 
field work (as you very well know).

* * *

> let along all names, let alone all 
> information that has ever been associated with those names.

> Sorry for the rant -- but as I already mentioned, nothing 
> frustrates me more in conversations such as these than when 
> the word "name" serves to obfuscate dialog.



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