[Taxacom] ICZN procedure question

Richard Pyle deepreef at bishopmuseum.org
Fri Nov 12 13:08:57 CST 2010

> > A degree of caution is certainly NOT a sign of madness! 
> > The notion that paper copies are inherently more survivable 
> because of 
> > potential for geographically distributed redundancy is.
> ***
> It may be mistaken (but probably not), but it is hardly madness.
> * * *

Fair enough.  But you have to understand, I know (and consider myself a
friend of) Jim Croft. Indeed, I had just seen his smiling face a few hours
prior to my email post via a Skype video call.  So, though his assertions in
his Taxacom post may not have have been evidence of madness, I think I'm not
alone in asserting that, for many, many reasons, it is *always* a legitimate
question to ask of Jim, "have you gone off the deep end?"

> Well, at present publication is on paper, and the focus very 
> much is on ensuring that all copies are produced 
> simultaneously (and uniformly) with a single moment of 
> publication. 

Yes, but you said, "A more traditional approach would be to formulate
requirements as to number of copies, where (and how) these are to be
deposited, and who is entitled to make such printed copies."

My contention is that, not only is this demonstrably *not* a traditional
approach of the Codes, but also the (more elaborated) discussions I've had
over the years with various people (some archived on lists, some not)
concerning the idea of making archival paper backups of e-registered
nomenclatual acts *did* involve stipulations for things like number of
copies, where (and how) they are to be deposited, and who is entitled to
make such printed copies.

So, your statement, "these [examples of paper-printed archive backups of
e-registrations] are moving counter to the way the Codes now tend to
organize things" is actually correct, but not for the reasons you gave.
It's correct because it is *not* traditional for the Codes to stiplate
numbers of copies, where (and how) they are to be deposited, and who is
entitled to make such printed copies; but such stipulations *would* probably
be included in proposals to the Code(s) in the examples you quoted.

> The very idea of producing paper copies on 
> demand, or piecemeal (as in the 'deleted' examples with each 
> archiving agency using its own computer, its own printer, its 
> own paper, etc) is pretty explicitly forbidden.

Yes, as it should be. But this has nothing to do with what I was talking

> Thus, the traditional approach would be to have only one 
> agency (the publisher?) producing all paper copies (thus 
> insuring uniform copies) and then distributing them. This 
> would be more expensive, and perhaps more cumbersome, but 
> inherently safer.

I don't think any of us are qualified to say what is "inherently safer".
The big advantage of paper is the long history.  The big advantage of
electronic is the nearly free global distribution of thousands or millions
of copies (ultra-cheap ultra-reduncacy).  We can postulate ad nauseum about
which of these factors outweighs the other (indeed we have already, and
probably will continue to do so), but we won't really know the answer until
another few centuries from now.

I'm advocating a compromise approach, to embrace e-published works with the
best insights available for long-term electronic archiving and built-in
mechanisms for ensuring the content gets pushed forward across technology
changes, but also establish a well-defined, well-thought-out paper-based
backup mechanism .... "just in case".

> >From that perspective, the more immediate questions would
> be who would be allowed to produce paper copies (the 
> publisher, the author, any civic-minded person noticing an 
> unpapered e-publication?), with what quality, with a minimum 
> of how many copies? and to be deposited where and how?

Because I'm talking about paper-based archives of e-registrations (i.e., the
specific bits of nomenclatural publications that require more longevity than
other scientific publications), and because anyone who proposed that such an
e-registry should exist in only one location would surely have "gone off the
deep end" (i.e., there will be multiple replicated and automatically
synchronized copies of the e-registry across the planet), I would propose --
at least as a start -- that all (or some defined subset of) hosts of these
replicated copies of the e-registry generate
daily/weekly/monthly/annual/whatever printed copies using good quality paper
and ink/toner, and archived those paper copies in a reputable library.  The
cost is not that great -- probably on par with the cost of the electricity
to run the server that hosts the e-registry (i.e., small enough to disappear
within the normal operational costs f any institution).

Even that would be more robust that what the Codes currently allow.


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