[Taxacom] Zootaxa papers now in BioStor

Mike Sadka M.Sadka at nhm.ac.uk
Thu Feb 11 08:30:50 CST 2010


I don't really have time for this (so I guess I should have kept my
mouth shut in the first place!) but...

>Perhaps, but it is far easier (and far cheaper) to create wiki-type
content period (i.e., not from structured data, but from primary
taxonomic literature)

But is it efficient?  Arguably you are likely to get more use out of
your input effort putting the content of primary taxonomic literature
into a structured database.

And is "easiest" the most important consideration anyway?  It's easier
for rogue taxonomists to erect spurious taxa than to do the job
properly, but that doesn't make it desirable.

In any case, your response misses my point.  My point is not how easy it
is to create wikis, but how *relatively* useless wikis are compared to
structured databases (and therefore that it is more *efficient* to spend
effort on structured datasets, even if that takes longer).  Structured
datasets can be used to output wiki-type content AND to keep the data
much more flexibly so that you can do other things with it too.
Generally (Rod's previous points accepted) wiki content is just wiki
content - whereas a well designed data model should support any
logically appropriate use of the data it contains, not just generation
of static/flat and hard-to-search-or-manipulate content. 

That said, I would probably support a plurality of approaches for
different circumstances.  Dogma is not a good thing in IT as in anything

>If resources are limited (if???), I would spend them creating as much
useful information as possible, as quickly as possible

So speed and quantity are more important to you that data quality and
how usefully and widely the data may be used?  Efficiency is more
important IMO. Surely, if you are going to spend your valuable time
entering data, you want it to be as widely and usefully available as
possible?  The best things ofte take a little longer.

The point I am trying to make is that structured data are
probably/usually much more useful and more widely useful long term.  If
you'll forgive me saying so, I get the impression that many scientists
don't really understand information management, or how databases can and
should be used to improve efficiency in all sorts of ways - and why
should they, since IT isn't their speciality.  The sadness is that many
of them do not recognise this limitation of their own knowledge and
therefore do not seek appropriate informatics collaborators - or even
up-to-date and accurate knowledge of what is possible or appropriate.  

Therefore experts often consider only half the equation - the part that
pertains to their data domain - but ignore the wider IT considerations,
and don't welcome or seek the synergy between domain specialists and
informatics technicians which might actually achieve an appropriate
result from all perspectives.

>I think only cladists find it useful!

So are you completely anti-cladist?  I am no systematist, but that seems
a pretty extreme position for this century...  Does this not support my
comment about luddism?

>At any rate, to cross threads just a little bit, EOL is no better off
than Wikispecies by these arguments ...

Yes - but it is not me who appears to be obsessed with partisan
arguments about wikispecies vs EoL!    ;-)   

I wasn't supporting either against the other.  My point was that none of
your stated reasons for your position re use of wikispecies appears to
be based on any consideration of the *technological* implications.  

It's a bit like designing a car without any understanding of engineering
- it might look fantastic, but how well will it work and how long will
it last, and how easy will it be to fix, run, maintain or operate?

Cheerio, Mike

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