[Taxacom] Re; Do rogue taxonomists need rogue publishers?

Stephen Thorpe s.thorpe at auckland.ac.nz
Tue Feb 9 15:29:18 CST 2010

Hi Pat,

>It is not an archival medium that meets the requirement for a permanent scientific record
I think that they are trying to develop ways to make it so - I don't know the details, but from what I can gather, deposition of a PDF into the Creative Commons might be considered "permanent enough"?

Realistically, the power of the dollar is going to decide the outcome here - not scientific/rational reasoning. Without having to print on paper, publishers will greatly reduce overheads (=increase profits), which could be a good thing IF the profits get used to expand the taxonomic publishing? An interesting question is whether the profits of a few companies should influence the whole of nomenclature/taxonomy, in the same way as your comment about a few individual nutcases influencing it ...



From: Pat LaFollette [pat at lafollette.com]
Sent: Tuesday, 9 February 2010 8:09 p.m.
To: Bob Mesibov; Stephen Thorpe
Subject: Re: [Taxacom] Re;  Do rogue taxonomists need rogue publishers?

Dear All,

E-only taxonomic publication has been a recurring topic in this
thread, but the most important issue concerning e-only has not been
mentioned: It is not an archival medium that meets the requirement
for a permanent scientific record.

So far as I have been able to discover, no form of electronic record
is accepted as permanent by governments, business, or law.  (Apart
from paper, only microfilm is acceptable in some cases.)  If e-only
is not considered suitable for laws, vital records, deeds, business
contracts, or any other record that law requires be preserved for
more than a few (3 to 7) years, how can systematic biology find it
acceptable for the permanent taxonomic record?

Our libraries are full of 100 year old and older taxonomic works. We
have a reasonable and justified expectation that they will still be
there in another 100 years.  What reasonable assurance is there that
an e-only work "published" today will still be preserved (and
readable) in 100 years? The track record, thus far, for long term
preservation of important digital records (from the early years of
the U. S. space program, for example) has been abysmal.  It would be
reasonable for systematic biology to reconsider the issue when
electronic records are widely accepted as appropriate and safe for
archival purposes.  E + paper taxonomic publication, on the other
hand, has all the advantages of electronic documents while assuring a
permanent record.

Any publication method can be (and has been) abused.  If the
publications of "rogue taxonomists" were ever to rise above the level
of petty annoyance, the Commission can be petitioned to suppress the
offending work(s) or act(s) on a case by case basis.  It is not
reasonable to allow a small handful of individuals, however onerous,
to influence how taxonomic works are published or who can write them.

Patrick LaFollette

At 04:52 PM 2/8/2010, Bob Mesibov wrote:
>OK, let me be clearer:
>(1) e-only taxonomic publication will be much easier than print or
>e+print, and will allow a much greater volume of taxonomic work to
>be produced more quickly. The second point is one of the benefits
>which has been promoted by e-only enthusiasts as a 'widening of the
>bottleneck' currently restricting our efforts to document the
>world's biodiversity. The fact that junk taxonomy can appear now,
>before e-only availability happens, isn't the point. The point is
>that without controls on e-only, vastly *more* junk taxonomy can
>appear, and appear faster. Will it be in proportion to the hoped-for
>increase in non-junk taxonomy? That's a conservative position, but
>even that's a disaster, because it's the *absolute* number of
>taxonomic entities we specialists will have to deal with, and I for
>one don't need that much more work.
>(2) Hawkeswood's and Makhan's attitudes are relevant because the two
>of them are sociopathic in exactly the same way spammers, botmasters
>and other delinquents are sociopathic. You don't produce good
>taxonomy by thinking the taxonomic establishment is a bunch of snobs
>and by God, you'll show them! You produce a heap of junk in which
>disinterested, honest compilers like Stephen Thorpe and specialists
>might possibly find something worthwhile. You clearly want to judge
>taxonomic work on its merits. Well, that's what specialists do:
>judge merit. And this specialist wants to stop Makhan and Hawkeswood
>before they trade in their single-shooter for a high-powered
>automatic with a huge magazine.
>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
>Taxacom Mailing List
>Taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu
>The Taxacom archive going back to 1992 may be searched with either
>of these methods:
>(1) http://taxacom.markmail.org
>Or (2) a Google search specified
>as:  site:mailman.nhm.ku.edu/pipermail/taxacom  your search terms here

Patrick I LaFollette
Research Associate in Malacology
Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County
pat at lafollette.com

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