[Taxacom] data quality vs. data security: a survey

Stephen Thorpe s.thorpe at auckland.ac.nz
Thu Feb 11 22:23:33 CST 2010


Well said! I'm glad to see someone else can also see the beauracratic money-go-round clearly! Richard Pyle and others may have a foot in both camps, but I just don't get his argument:

>to be able to do much much more (more species descriptions, more checklists, more monographs), using much, much less (less time, less money, less frustration, less tedium)

Quite how the existence of EOL (which was one Richard mentioned in this context) facilitates more species descriptions by Richard Pyle, I just don't know, do you Bob?

As I noted previously (a while ago) one recent AFD "upgrade" was a restructuring of their interface, from good to bad! I could go on ...


From: Bob Mesibov [mesibov at southcom.com.au]
Sent: Friday, 12 February 2010 4:48 p.m.
To: Stephen Thorpe
Subject: Re: [Taxacom] data quality vs. data security: a survey

Hi, Stephen.

You picked an interesting example, because Australia's Apteropanorpa spp. are caught up in a small local storm of acronyms, megabucks and database-linkage schemes. The 'AFD' to which you refer is the Australian Faunal Directory, the online successor to the Fauna of Australia series funded by the (still-extant) Australian Biological Resources Study (ABRS).

Another branch of the Australian national bureaucracy, the Atlas of Living Australia (ALA), last year got AUD$30 million (http://www.ala.org.au/news/30million-for-the-atlas-of-living-australia.html). It's still not 100% clear exactly how that money will be spent, but part of it seems to be going to AFD to fund upgrades, so that ALA can do its own EOL for Australian fauna


based in part on the taxonomy spelled out in AFD. It's unlikely that ALA will spend any money on primary taxonomy. Instead, it aims (http://www.ala.org.au/) to link bits on information together, some of which may come from ALA-supported information-upgrade exercises.

It will be interesting in future to trace the paths through which information from the primary taxonomic literature, museum collection records, etc finds its way into the world's many interlinked biodiversity databases and other sources (such as your remarkable Wikispecies), and how it's checked, how much redundancy there is, etc.

Interesting, that is, for IT folk and historians of science. For those of us poor buggers at the bottom generating the data, the 'trickle-down' effect is just about non-existent. There's now a whole world of people making a living from biodiversity information per se. A question more interesting than yours is whether these folk understand where and how the data get made, or whether they're like the hypothetical consumer who thinks that milk is something that comes in cartons in a supermarket.
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

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