[Taxacom] Is "deprecation" a taxonomic term or informatics jargon has crept into taxonomic literature?

Dan Lahr daniel.lahr at gmail.com
Sat Aug 20 23:24:10 CDT 2011

Thanks Peter,

This is what I inferred must have happened: the term had some usage in
taxonomy, I could find some pre-wikipedia stuff mostly on
paleontology, specially dinosaur (yuck) related literature. But it had
heavy usage in the programming world and that is the true reason why
it crept into biodiversity informatics. The fact it had some previous
usage in taxonomy is actually irrelevant.

So Paddy Patterson answered Paul's question, correctly in my opinion,
that the term has already spread online and crept into our minds and
thoughts.  I was pointing this out merely as an exemplar of things to
come: poorly defined concepts in either field will be overtaken by
lingo (which comes with conceptual baggage) from the other field.  It
is my believe that usually confusion ensues when this kind of things

I'm wondering if someone with a background on history of science can
weigh in on the issue. What is the outcome when large fields of
science merge? Kuhn and others usually discussed struggles of theories
and not mergers, I'm not sure I ever read anything on the topic of
large mergers.



On Sat, Aug 20, 2011 at 11:53 PM, Peter Rauch <peterr at berkeley.edu> wrote:
> I recall the term "deprecated" used wrt taxonomy (names) long before the term became common in computer programming parlance.
> However, I do not believe that the use of the term in computer programming got borrowed from its use in taxonomy; that programming use (applied to programming language syntax changes) preceded any attention that the programming/informatics crowd had given to biological taxonomy.
> And, the use of the term which is now found frequently in wikipedia (and other fora), where it now describes the fate of I.T.-created terminology indeed related to the taxonomic I.T. enterprise, came directly from the computer programming bailiwick (familiarity with the term by IT folks who had programming backgrounds), not from the bio-tax. world.
> This is my impression from 45 years of recolletions of the evolution in all three fields of endeavor, to which I had been paying some attention. I can't document / verify / validate my impressions with precision --they're just imperfect memories rusted by age. So, anyone with alternative recollections is welcome to toss them into the pot.
> Peter
> At 00:51 11/08/20, Paul wrote:
>>From: "Dan Lahr" <daniel.lahr at gmail.com>
>>Sent: Friday, August 19, 2011 7:40 PM
>>> Hi all,
>>> Out of curiosity, I've incidentally noticed the use of this term in
>>> wikipedia as a description for names that are not anymore in use (one
>>> example is http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Homoptera another is
>>> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wannanosaurus and check out the search
>>> result for deprecated+genus
>>> http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Special%3ASearch&search=deprecated+genus).
>>> I do not believe having ever read this term in "off-line" taxonomic
>>> literature.  Intriguingly, the definition of the term in wikipedia
>>> itself is centered around obsolescence of software.
>>> My question is could it be that informatics jargon is already creeping
>>> into the taxonomic thinking and literature (yes I do consider online
>>> material literature) or is this an isolated incident?  If this is not
>>> an accident, how prepared are we to deal with the merging of
>>> jargon/meanings/semantics from both worlds?
>>A quick Google search suggests that the use of "deprecated" in a taxonomic
>>context is strongly tied to Wikipedia. I suppose this ties in with two
>>phenomena that are natural to the 'Wikipedian', namely
>>1) to treat everything that is not nailed down otherwise as a software
>>project and
>>2) to express an opinion ('This is the Truth') wherever there is room to do
>>If this will remain limited to Wikipedia, well, who can say? The first
>>question is whether it will spread online.
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Daniel Lahr
PhD candidate
Organismic and Evolutionary Biology
U Massachusetts- Amherst
319 Morrill Science Center, Amherst
Amherst, MA 01003

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