[Taxacom] Pop article on taxonomy's decline

Bob Mesibov mesibov at southcom.com.au
Thu Jan 27 02:10:18 CST 2011

Hi, Rich.

"Jim (who spent time previously at NSF) was *very* much aware of the need to support the producers of the content (as was just about everyone else in the room)."

Um, doesn't that make it even worse? To know from the get-go that taxonomists needed lots of support, but not to develop ways within the project's ambit to provide it? I'm happy to be proved wrong, but the only external support I know from EOL is for student interns to work on species pages, etc and for short-term research fellows to be paid out of a Rubinstein grant. The latter do *not* have to be taxonomists and are *not* funded to do taxonomy (http://www.eol.org/content/page/fellows_faq).

"Some of that money *has* gone directly to taxonomists."

And was that money for doing taxonomic research, or for checking/updating the taxonomy in some databasing effort?

You seem to be arguing that McLain's article in Wired has got it wrong, that the acronyms aren't to blame for the decline of taxonomy at all, that the two enterprises (learning new things, and gathering up what's already learnt and making it more easily available) can work side by side with occasional happy cross-fertilisation. Sounds good, in principle. What McLain and I and others are pointing out is that the first enterprise is dying, the second is booming and the cross-fertilisation is massively one-way and in the wrong direction.
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
Ph: (03) 64371195; 61 3 64371195
Webpage: http://www.qvmag.tas.gov.au/?articleID=570

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