[Taxacom] CoL and ZooBank

Bob Mesibov mesibov at southcom.com.au
Fri Jul 9 03:11:30 CDT 2010

How nice to get home after a long winter's day field trip and find a nice, hot Taxacom thread at which to warm myself.

I have to disagree (?) with Stephen Thorpe a wee bit, in that the target audience of the major aggregators has always been more than the 'crats. To avoid being accused of quoting out of context, I here provide 2 links to the publicly announced visions of EoL:


It's clear that founder E.O. Wilson and founding Executive Director James Edwards, at least, wanted to build a single portal to all available species information that can be accessed anytime, anywhere, by anyone with a Net connection. The 'systemic failures' I referred to in an earlier post don't have to do with this particular goal, which is obviously impossible to achieve in any case. I was thinking of those of us who do systematics - taxonomically inclined users. Our time is wasted if we depend on such portals.

EoL, at least, had us in mind. Wilson said in the second linked piece above "It [EoL] will ensure that existing knowledge is freely available to anyone, everywhere, at any time. And, most important, it will accelerate the discovery of the unknown species", but didn't explain how that acceleration was supposed to happen. Edwards thought of us, too, a little: ' "We have not given enough thought to the people who provide the information on which the Encyclopedia of Life is built," Dr. Edwards acknowledged. "We are looking into ways to keep that community going." ' And "Dr. Wilson hopes the Encyclopedia of Life will foster the growth of that group."

As for other users, such as conservation bureaucrats - I don't think they should be allowed to see any biodiversity information without supervision. The consequences of their making decisions without expert advice from specialists are potentially much worse than those from allowing children to see pornography on the Net. Every bureaucrat needs at least one Biodiversity Nanny.

While I wait for Rich Pyle's promised response-in-depth, here's my bias: as a zoologist, all I want is ZooBank (extended backwards in time, too, but that can wait, and tied to what Thomson Reuters now manage) and specialist-produced, online resources for particular groups. If those resources want to link with aggregators, fine, but if there's an advantage to specialists from such linking, it isn't obvious to me.
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
Webpage: http://www.qvmag.tas.gov.au/?articleID=570

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