[Taxacom] ICZN procedure question

Richard Pyle deepreef at bishopmuseum.org
Fri Nov 12 13:39:50 CST 2010

> The problem I see is much less that an electronic copy could 
> be destroyed, as it has not been a major problem for 
> taxonomic science in the past 400 years that paper is a 
> material that can very easily be destroyed. One of the major 
> problems will be developing methods to find electronic copies 
> again after long time. In many years libraries have developed 
> means to store and find printed books, and scientists took a 
> long time to learn how to cite book metadata in a way that 
> others will be able to find them in libraries. 

Fair enough -- and I think *this* is where we start to spill into what I
would agree is the real issue (as has already been pointed out by Donat):
open access of the content.

I have hinted at something that I expected to receive objection to, but so
far has not.  In case my hints were too obscure, I'll state it more

Almost by definition, the aspects of nomenclatural publications that give
them elevated need for long-term archival persistence (compared with other
published science) is the subset of content of such publications that render
new names to be compliant with the relevant Code.  If you have a typical
paper-published article describing a new species, and you took a yellow
highlighter pen to mark all the bits of the article that confer
code-compliancy of the new name, in most cases the yellow highlighted bits
would represent only a small fraction of the information content of the
whole article.  Everything in the article that is not highlighted is,
effectively, non-nomenclatural; and as such falls into the same category as
all other scientific publications (as I said previously, for which we do not
see passionate pleas to preserve paper printing).

Any electronic registy of names/nomenclatural acts would surely require
inclusion of all these important yellow-highlighted bits.  As such, a
print-out of the registry content would constitute the complete information
content that our community demands long-term persistence for (if we wanted
long-term persistence for the rest of the non-highlighted parts of the
article, then what we'd really saying is that we want paper publicaiton for
*all* of science).

The Bacteriological community figured this out a long time ago. As best as I
understand the bacteriological registration system (Brian, correct me if I'm
wrong), the content of the registration entry is the distillation of those
yellow-highlighted bits, published in paper form.

So, bringing home the point:  unless and until we convince the taxonomic
community to publish *all* of their Code-governed nomenclatural acts in
open-acces venues, there will always be barriers to ensuring widespread
redundancy of the complete articles.  However, if we acknowledge that the
only thing we're truly concerned about for long-term archiving is the
Code-requird bits, then we can go a long ways to solving the
problem/mitigating the concenrs if the e-registration system is open-access
and widely replicated.  And, we can go further by having numerous copies of
the registry content printed on durable media on a regular basis.

> The other problem that will arise after a file would have 
> been found, is how to read it. This is a problem the books 
> don't have, with which we have very little experience and can 
> only hope that someone will help us some day, preferrably 
> someone who will not be paid by us.

This would be a non-issue if the e-repository was the e-archive.


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