[Taxacom] The role of ADBC (NSF national digitizationsol...

Stephen Thorpe stephen_thorpe at yahoo.co.nz
Wed Sep 29 19:39:05 CDT 2010


Bob,

>>"is taxonomy a closed shop?"
> Sure. So is expert knowledge of the night sky, or of Holden cars manufactured 
>in the 1970s. Everyone can't know everything, and for people outside a group of 
>specialists, the specialist knowledge looks like esoterica held within an 
>exclusive sect

that's not quite what I meant! Besides, I bet I could find a more comprehensive 
andĀ reliable book in the local library on the night sky, or Holden cars ..., 
than I could on the beetle fauna of New Zealand! It isn't about everyone knowing 
everything, but having access to knowledge of everything ...

>The common answer is that it's better to have it out there than not, but it's 
>always best to consult your 
>
>taxonomist/pharmacist/lawyer/doctor/investment adviser. The conservation or 
>biosecurity bureaucrat who makes decisions from 
>
>databases without consulting a specialist is a bloody idiot

again, not quite what I meant! Take doctors for example. Yes, it is better to 
consult your doctor than to self-diagnose with the "help" of the internet! But 
doctors don't do doctoring just for other doctors! It is not a closed shop. The 
wider public clearly derives benefit from doctors. What benefit do they get from 
taxonomists? Well, I can't go to them when I'm ill (well, I could, but it would 
be futile!), and I can't find a remotely comprehensive or reliable resource on 
the world's biota ...

I think you misinterpreted what I was trying to say there ...

Stephen



________________________________
From: Bob Mesibov <mesibov at southcom.com.au>
To: Stephen Thorpe <stephen_thorpe at yahoo.co.nz>
Cc: TAXACOM <taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu>; rudy.jocque at africamuseum.be
Sent: Thu, 30 September, 2010 12:57:35 PM
Subject: Re: [Taxacom] The role of ADBC (NSF national digitizationsol...

Stephen Thorpe wrote:

"is taxonomy a closed shop?"

Sure. So is expert knowledge of the night sky, or of Holden cars manufactured in 
the 1970s. Everyone can't know everything, and for people outside a group of 
specialists, the specialist knowledge looks like esoterica held within an 
exclusive sect.

"Do taxonomists do taxonomy just for other taxonomists?"

Don't reckon. They share their specialist knowledge with the world. Sometimes 
they do it by compiling bottom-up Web resources, sometimes by selling their 
advice as consultants. Museum specialists often have 'engage with the wider 
community' in their job description.

"Is the value of every initiative to be determined by how it facilitates the 
work of taxonomists (and associated collections people), and/or injects $$$ into 
their economy, without regard for what anybody outside of that closed loop might 
benefit fromĀ it in terms of reliable knowledge?"

Good question. Now ask it about other exports from the world of specialist 
knowledge, like pharmaceutical compendia, online law records, medical references 
and share price analysis. The common answer is that it's better to have it out 
there than not, but it's always best to consult your 
taxonomist/pharmacist/lawyer/doctor/investment adviser. The conservation or 
biosecurity bureaucrat who makes decisions from databases without consulting a 
specialist is a bloody idiot.
--
Dr Robert Mesibov
Honorary Research Associate
Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery, and
School of Zoology, University of Tasmania
Home contact: PO Box 101, Penguin, Tasmania, Australia 7316
03 64371195; 61 3 64371195
Webpage: http://www.qvmag.tas.gov.au/?articleID=570



      


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