[Taxacom] ICZN procedure question

Richard Pyle deepreef at bishopmuseum.org
Fri Nov 12 02:27:10 CST 2010


Forgive me for asking....but have you gone off the deep end?

> Imagine if 'electronic-only publication' had been all the go 
> back then. It is conceivable that that we would now have a 
> botanical literature replete with names, but no types, no 
> protologues and no way or resurrecting either. Why would you 
> ever design and implement such a system for science?

So let me get this striaght: if we had electronic-only publication back
then, we would have kept every known copy of the electronic file in one
place?  Boy, we really were stupid back then,w eren't we? One of the reasons
I am optimistic about e-publication is that it's effectively free to make
gazillions of copies, and distributed them all over the planet.  Yes, that
can be done for paper too -- but at a MUCH higher cost.

Google "LOCKSS".

> We are not talking about the collapse of civilization, 
> although that is a distinct possibility given current 
> political trends, but about an actively evolving technology 
> that is inherently fragile, based on moving parts, and worse 
> still, based on other evolving technologies with moving 
> parts.  There is nothing robust or long term about it.

Maybe.  Maybe not.  That's why I advocated a handful of archival paper
copies of an electronic registry being generated around the world.... "just
in case".

> It is not in place yet, but I would be suggesting very 
> strongly to maintainers of nomenclatural and taxonomic 
> indices that when e-only publication arrives, they print out 
> and archive copies of their reference material on archival 
> paper and store it logically in a safe place.  To not do so 
> would be to build their databases on a foundation of cards.

We don't need to print the entire publications; just the bits of relevance
to nomenclature (i.e., the registration entries).  I'm assuming our premise
here is that we're putting nomenclature on a pedestal high above all other
scientific knowledge, for which I've seen few passionate pleas to preserve
paper printing.  Or, is this really a plea to maintain all scientific
publications in paper form?

> As for the last sentence, I will bet nearly every one has a 
> floppy disk lying around full of stuff created a decade or 
> two ago, with a program that no longer exists on hardware 
> that can no longer be ground but that's OK because we have 
> moved on and those files aren't important anymore? The 
> problem for taxonomy is that 'those files' will always be 
> important... Forever...

Yes, exactly why we won't leave them unattended and forgotten on CDs, DVDs,
hard drives or other such dustbins as we did with our floppy disks back in
the day.


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