[Taxacom] FW: ICZN procedure question

Doug Yanega dyanega at ucr.edu
Sat Nov 13 15:36:59 CST 2010

Steve Gaimari wrote:

>  >This is precisely the kind of thing that makes me saddest of all; a
>>perfectly reasonable, respectable person who should be on our side,
>>but has so completely missed the fundamental argument that they
>>resist - and in doing so, may convince *others* to resist.
>Now wait just a minute Doug. You are an ICZN Commissioner and you 
>are saying such things? Are you suggesting that your colleagues who 
>don't agree with you are unreasonable and unrespectable?

Absolutely not. Read what I wrote, please.

>Do you really think people don't *get* the fundamental argument? 
>Guess what? People do get the fundamental argument, and some 
>disagree with your and others conclusions and point of view. I am 
>disturbed that you now use such rhetoric of which "side" one is on - 
>this to me does not bode well for any upcoming discussions among 
>Commissioners on this issue, as there now seems to be this 
>fractionated us-versus-them mentality. I just hope that the 
>Commissioners are carefully considering what the majority of their 
>constituency are saying. We are all on the "side" of zoological 
>taxonomy - that is where our passion and our loyalty lay. Your 
>emotional state is irrelevant to what is best for zoology. You seem 
>to think that disagreement is somehow personal - it is the farthest 
>thing from personal. Some people just do not see the world as you 
>see it, and they are perfectly reasonable and respectable people.
>Not quoting the section, but the whole money under the mattress 
>versus bank analogy falls apart right away. Publishing on paper is 
>nothing like putting money under the mattress, and e-only 
>publication is nothing like putting money in the bank. These two 
>things could not be farther from each other is trying to work an 

But...but...this shows that you DON'T get the point. It's not *about* 
the medium! It's about HOW we archive our legacy - not the *physical* 
"how" but the *procedural* "how." Each individual scientist keeping 
his own archives, *whether they are paper or electronic,* is the 
wrong system, and the wrong model to emulate. That is the system we 
are presently using - the "money-under-the-mattress" model. The 
system we need is a BANK - a central, permanent repository so no one 
EVER has to keep a personal archive. A place where nothing can be 
lost, damaged, stolen, tampered with, or go obsolete. It doesn't 
matter - in the strictest conceptual sense - whether this central 
archive is paper or digital, but the not-so-minor *technical* 
details, of course, are that (1) no paper archive, no matter how 
extensive, can ever be as secure as a centralized digital archive, 
and (2) a paper-based repository is NOT even going to remain an 
option if publishers stop using paper (because we *already know* that 
we cannot force them to keep printing hard copies). Otherwise, the 
paper/electronic dichotomy is a red herring, and yet here, years into 
this discussion, you are still totally focused on that, and 
accordingly still missing the point.

Why do you think I always come back to GenBank again and again and 
again? GenBank is the model to emulate NOT because GenBank is e-only, 
it's because GenBank is *centralized, universally-accepted, 
permanent, and well-funded*. THAT is the point. The fact that GenBank 
couldn't do what it does, the way it does it, if it relied on paper, 
is ultimately *incidental*, even if it is unavoidable. The "side" I'm 
taking here is not "digital versus paper", it is "a bank versus no 
bank", and the digital part is just a consequence of that choice; 
it's a different dichotomy than the one you, and Don, and others are 
arguing about, which is what you, personally, can and cannot 
accomplish with your personal archives depending on whether YOU are 
using paper or digital storage media.

We cannot have a centralized archive unless it is digital. Since the 
archive MUST be digital, there is no reason to exclude e-only 
publications from being archived. If we never build a centralized 
archive, then e-only will not work, but that's not the way we should 
be thinking.

To reiterate: the analogy is not that publishing on paper is like 
putting money under the mattress, it's that *scientists keeping their 
own archives* is. It's also not that e-only publication is like 
putting money in a bank - that *can't* be the analogy because we have 
yet to create the *bank*! The analogy is that WE NEED A BANK. We need 
a bank for all taxonomic works - and since there are going to be LOTS 
of taxonomic works that exist only in electronic form, whether we 
like it or not, then the only bank that will hold *everything* is a 
bank designed to hold digital publications - which, in turn, means 
e-only is perfectly viable IF (and ONLY if) we have a bank! A digital 
bank is also the only type of system where anyone, anywhere, can both 
deposit and retrieve anything in the bank.

Are we on the same page yet?


Doug Yanega        Dept. of Entomology         Entomology Research Museum
Univ. of California, Riverside, CA 92521-0314        skype: dyanega
phone: (951) 827-4315 (standard disclaimer: opinions are mine, not UCR's)
   "There are some enterprises in which a careful disorderliness
         is the true method" - Herman Melville, Moby Dick, Chap. 82

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