[Taxacom] BHL & GBIF data vetted

Wolfgang Lorenz faunaplan at googlemail.com
Tue Jan 18 09:39:46 CST 2011

Hi Stephen & All,

I will certainly agree when you point to some fantastic advantages of the
permanent *manuscript stage* that is in the wiki system and other dynamic
online projects, but the flux in e-published taxonomic information is not
without certain problems.

In the paper-print era, taxonomy was progressing largely in time-stamped
*finished* worksteps with clear authorship, which could be summarized/
interpreted from a current point of view.
In the electronic media, we now have an increasing number of
work-in-progress with unclear, often changing authorships. This does have
consequences on our ability to manage information tied to taxonomic names, -
and probably it was this situation that led to projects like "Global Names
Architecture" where biodiversity informaticians are trying to make sense out
of *naked* namestrings that are more or less stripped from usage context, -
names that are no longer interpretable "chresonyms".
My impression is, biodiversity informatics could proceed much more
straightforward if we had a better distinction between online information
that is in manuscript stage and *finished* (preferrably reviewed) worksteps
that are intended for permanent, public, scientific record.
We have been discussing similar things with e-publication of Code-relevant
acts. I think there's a wider issue: E.g., what counts as "usage" in the
sense of  the Code, e.g., in context with "prevailing usage"...?


2011/1/17 Stephen Thorpe <stephen_thorpe at yahoo.co.nz>

> following on with more comments ...
> one crucial aspect to any good system for presenting biodiversity
> informatics data is that it allows *anyone* who notices an error to easily
> flag it or preferably fix it. It is clear how the wiki system facilitates
> this, but not clear to me how your "finished PDFs" handle it???
> to make the more general point once again: the problem for biodiversity
> informatics in the world today is that there are too many independent
> initiatives, all wanting to "do it their way", and aften trading on their
> own supposed "authority". We *must* develop better ways to make info
> verifiable to the end user if they need to, and recognise that many people
> have a part to play in making available good biodiversity data, so there is
> no point claiming authority and excluding others from being able to
> contribute, for the inevitable result will be a global biodiversity
> informatics data quality crisis ... if indeed we don't have that already ...
> Stephen
>  ------------------------------
> *From:* Wolfgang Lorenz <faunaplan at googlemail.com>
> *To:* "taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu" <Taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu>
> *Cc:* Coleoptera-ZSM at zsm.mwn.de
> *Sent:* Tue, 18 January, 2011 12:18:58 AM
> *Subject:* [Taxacom] BHL & GBIF data vetted
> Dear All,
> putting together the legacy data from the literature for a taxon can still
> be an immense challenge. Even getting the complete picture of the known
> distribution range of a single species - past and extant -  is one of the
> most time-consuming tasks I can think of. A task that has been performed
> reliably for only a tiny fraction of our known species, - despite the fact
> that such data are the basic units of biogeography and are indispensable
> for
> biodiversity conservation.
> In light of such a background, we cannot value high enough all the efforts
> that have been made and are being made through initiatives like BHL and
> However, only taxon experts can easily recognize the errors in the output
> of
> these largely automated data portals. Not so the average user  - most
> biologists, students, conservationists, journalists, politicians .... The
> risk of being misinformed with data from GBIF or BHL is very high for
> someone who is not a taxon expert who is able to vet the data.
> So I'd like to ask: What can the friendly expert do to share his vetting
> results with a wider user community?
> Maybe we do not need more than what we already have with the existing tools
> in BHL (e.g., the name search tool in BHL!) and GBIF (e.g., its excellent
> download-options). In addition to the important  wiki ideas (with more
> great
> things here: http://www.species-id.net), don't we also have the option to
> create open-access PDFs for our vetting results?
> Maybe it's possible to have a central place for such "catalogue-style" PDFs
> with a manuscript-stage quarantine, maybe closely allied with ZooBank? (not
> directly as a topic within ZooBank, but don't we need to know the usage
> history of names for a number of nomenclatural reasons, too?)
> Let me just illustrate this with the following example (test version only,
> still incomplete and, of course, access to a bibliography for understanding
> the micro-citations is needed but it is still a work in progress):
> http://tinyurl.com/66fd43h
> In contrast to the wiki system, where publications are more or less in a
> permanent manuscript stage, such PDFs would be citable, *finished*, and
> time-stamped documents with clear authorship.
> As you can see in the example: it has its own accepted name for the taxon
> (=current chresonymy with synonymy), and the full "legacy chresonymy",
> i.e.,
> the accepted names used in previous publications. It also has embedded
> hyperlinks to BHL (still incomplete), - an expert-created/-filtered
> counterpart to what you get with the BHL name search (which cannot
> distinguish homonyms, for example). The map display can be directly
> compared
> with what you get as overview map through the GBIF data portal (see link
> below the map), etc....
> Maybe an optimistic dream: but in the early stages of this "official decade
> of biodiversity", it shouldn't be impossible to organize more substantial
> funding for fundamental things...
> Best regards,
> Wolfgang
> -----------------------------
> Wolfgang Lorenz, Tutzing, Germany
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