[Taxacom] A romp through an aggregator

Bob Mesibov mesibov at southcom.com.au
Tue May 25 07:19:43 CDT 2010


I'll be out of contact for a few days but will try to respond quickly. I think two things are being confused here. First, we have people who want my (or anyone's) data, and we'd like an efficient way for those people to get the data. Second, we have projects which are aspiring (I won't say claiming) to be the best possible in-between data brokers. It should be obvious that I don't have much time for the project approach. The first matter is different, because it goes to the heart of what Stephen Thorpe was asking: who wants what data, and why? There's flexibility implied there that isn't possible with pre-structured data. Sets of names linked to sets of specimens are not the whole story, because the names and IDs are works-in-progress, and because beyond taxonomic and specimen data there really is a lot more to biodiversity that cannot be easily structured with a data mark-up protocol. If the only biodiversity information available is the kind that can be served between databases, then we don't need taxonomists (or biologists, for that matter). The most efficient way to link answer-seeker and answer-supplier is with a phone number, an email address or an online forum. The next most efficient way is with bottom-up resources, including the wiki-style builds that Jason Mate prefers. The aspiring middlemen just aren't up to the job. They literally don't know what they're handling.
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/mesibov.html

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