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

Bob Mesibov mesibov at southcom.com.au
Fri Feb 12 02:35:46 CST 2010

Richard Pyle wrote:

"If we can actually build and implement an underlying information architecture to COORDINATE and INTEGRATE our collective efforts, we *might* (eventually) be taken seriously enough to get the REAL scale of funding we need to do the job that needs to be done."

Oh, no. You didn't really dangle that carrot, did you? "If we do X and Y and Z now, then someday someone may take us seriously and fund us hugely, so we should all get behind doing X and Y and Z"? And you didn't really want to claim that people who criticise the distortions in priorities Just Don't Understand, and if they understood, then they'd back the distortions?

Sorry, I find both of those arguments offensive, and we clearly aren't going to agree on this. It's depressing to watch natural history collections and taxonomic expertise disappearing while a certain sector of the taxonomic enterprise hopes we *might* (eventually) get a Large Taxonomic Collider or a Deep Ocean Taxoscope. And perfecting and reperfecting and reperfecting 'information management initiatives' is fine, just fine, but the simple truth is that you could stop *all* taxonomic activity tomorrow, cut the flow of new data to zero, and still have enough information to manage, and remanage, and remanage for decades to come. Now *there's* a career path!

Chuckle as much as you like at petty squabbling taxonomists, they don't need biodiversity informatics professionals. It would nice to think the reverse wasn't true, but it isn't, which may explain the rise of project after project (see the e-Biosphere abstracts) and the lousy prospects for generating new taxonomic data.
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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