[Taxacom] A simple solution?

Stephen Thorpe stephen_thorpe at yahoo.co.nz
Sun Nov 14 17:24:50 CST 2010

one question, Chris: how much more work would it take for BHL to include all 
taxonomic publications past and present and all new ones as they are published? 
How many orders of magnitude? Seems to me that BHL coverage, although rather 
impressive, is far from comprehensive and additions are a bit slow. Is it 
realistic to hope for funding of the same magnitude as the task for 
comprehensive coverage? Better start talking to Bill Gates! :)

From: Chris Freeland <Chris.Freeland at mobot.org>
To: Stephen Thorpe <stephen_thorpe at yahoo.co.nz>; Adam Cotton 
<adamcot at cscoms.com>
Sent: Mon, 15 November, 2010 12:07:38 PM
Subject: RE: [Taxacom] A simple solution?

I've been reading through these various threads on electronic publications, and 
with some trepidation will throw out a few points from my experience as the 
technical director for the Biodiversity Heritage Library.

I agree with Stephen that the scope of work to build a system like Adam 
describes is quite large, but I also think that we can't let that stop us as a 
community.  Technology is making this problem easier to solve every day from a 
'bits & bolts' standpoint.  The social & political issues about registration of 
e-publications are not so simple, and since I am no expert in the Codes I leave 
it at that and will instead comment on the tech side of things.

Within the Biodiversity Heritage Library we've been working to establish 
redundant nodes for the digitized volumes (currently 80,000+) made available 
through scanning operations.  RIght now that content is all sitting on servers 
in San Francisco run by the Internet Archive - a risky single point of failure.  
To address this risk we've tested and built a hardware & software solution I 
like to describe as "Dropbox on steroids" that identifies & syncs content across 
shared repositories around the world.  We currently have a cluster in Woods Hole 
(at Marine Biological Laboratory, a BHL partner) that syncs content from 
Internet Archive and are in the process of establishing a node at NHM London for 
the BHL-Europe.  We have begun working with the Atlas of Living Australia & 
Museum Victoria to establish a node in Australia, the Bibliotecha Alexandrina to 
establish a node in Egypt, SciELO for the same in Brasil, and right this very 
minute I'm in Beijing working with the Institute of Botany-Chinese Academy of 
Sciences for a node in China.  For more information on these activities, check 
out the presentation that developers Phil Cryer (MOBOT) & Anthony Goddard (MBL) 
gave at TDWG on this topic: http://slidesha.re/dngMhG and an earlier version 
presented in London: http://slidesha.re/bO8WNE

So to try to wrap this up: BHL, as a global collaboration of like-minded 
organizations, is working to devise technologies that do the infrastructure side 
of the simple solution that Adam outlines.  I can say from our experience it has 
not been easy and we are certainly far from done, but we've been successful in 
demonstrating that it *can* be done - we can maintain multiple international 
nodes that share & sync content.  Woohoo!  We've had a LOT of interest in our 
solution from multiple domains because everyone who runs a digital archive 
worries about redundancy & resilience - our community is not alone here.  I 
would hope that the ongoing discussions on this list can keep working on the 
policy & social issues around electronic publications because those are the 
pieces that are unique to our community.

Let the flogging begin,

Chris Freeland
Director, Center for Biodiversity Informatics, Missouri Botanical Garden
Tech Director, Biodiversity Heritage Library

-----Original Message-----
From: taxacom-bounces at mailman.nhm.ku.edu on behalf of Stephen Thorpe
Sent: Sun 11/14/2010 3:45 PM
To: Adam Cotton
Subject: Re: [Taxacom] A simple solution?

I don't think that you fully grasp (1) the sheer volume of work required to
implement this, given that even just Zootaxa, for example, publishes new taxa 5
days a week; and (2) the need to have MULTIPLE e-copies archived in different
places, in case disaster should strike the ICZN computer system.

From: Adam Cotton <adamcot at cscoms.com>
To: ICZN List <iczn-list at afriherp.org>
Sent: Mon, 15 November, 2010 10:32:04 AM
Subject: [Taxacom] A simple solution?

I have been following the convoluted arguments on both listserves, and would
like to offer a suggestion that keeps things simple, and allows both
traditional 'paper' publishing as well as e-publishing.

It seems that most of us agree that doing nothing is not an option if the
ICZN (substitute ICBN nearly anywhere in this post) is to remain relevant to
the taxonomic world as a whole.

We also agree that the current Article 8.6 in the ICZN Code is not
satisfactorary, as it is already out of date with technology.

Rather than a separate organisation being set up as an e-publication Bank
per se at this time, why not mandate that a copy (in the same format as the
original) of any electronic publication must be sent to the 'Registrar' at
the ICZN at the time of publication (to arrive within a specified time
period, perhaps 1 month, to allow for the possibility that it must be sent
by snailmail), rather than the current "deposited in at least 5 major
publicly accessible libraries which are identified by name in the work
itself", which does not clearly define the quality of library considered or
not considered 'major'. The Registrar would then add the nomenclatorial
information to the bottom of a page in the ICZN website, so the whole World
can see that eg. xxx new name has been published with the reference to the
e-publication listed. This would prevent problems of validity of
publication, at the same time as disseminating the basic information
(nomenclatorial act & reference) to the taxonomists who need to know about
it. At the same time there would be no question over priority of
e-publications, or between e- and paper publications, as the publication
date would be included in the information on the website.

This could be set up with relatively little extra funding, and once
established, over time it would be relatively easy to find sources of new
funding to expand the project into a repository of ALL new nomenclatorial
acts (with a change mandating that paper publications must also be sent to
the Registrar) at a later stage.

The ICZN Registry webpage could also include a link to download the e-paper
from the ICZN's server (providing open access). However it may be necessary
to implement this at a later time, when  the ICZN server is able to both
store and provide online access to a large amount of data and users.
Probably this would be dependent on increased funding generated by the first
phase of the project.

Adam Cotton.


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