[Taxacom] The role of ADBC (NSF national digitizationsol...
stephen_thorpe at yahoo.co.nz
Wed Sep 29 19:39:05 CDT 2010
>>"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
that's not quite what I meant! Besides, I bet I could find a more comprehensive
and 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 ...
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
"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 from 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
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