[Taxacom] Global biodiversity databases

Richard Pyle deepreef at bishopmuseum.org
Wed Aug 8 02:16:11 CDT 2012

Rod --

Would you consider the DNS system to be "centralized", or "distributed"?  Is
it "usable"?


> -----Original Message-----
> From: taxacom-bounces at mailman.nhm.ku.edu [mailto:taxacom-
> bounces at mailman.nhm.ku.edu] On Behalf Of Roderic Page
> Sent: Tuesday, August 07, 2012 8:34 PM
> Subject: Re: [Taxacom] Global biodiversity databases
> Reading this thread I fear we are failing to learn from the experience of
> others. The notion that distributed systems will somehow magically provide
> the kinds of services people need seems to me to be fatally flawed.
There's a
> great interview that makes this point:
> http://blogs.plos.org/mfenner/2009/02/17/interview_with_geoffrey_bilder/
> In that interview Geoffrey Bilder of CrossRef says:
> "...my personal and unfashionable observation is that "distributed" begets
> "centralized." For every distributed service created, we've then had to
> create a centralized service to make it useable again (ICANN, Google,
> Bay, CrossRef, DOAJ, ticTocs, WorldCat, etc.)."
> The key phrase here is "usable". Much of the taxonomic databasing has been
> focussed on the needs of providers, not end users. Distributed may met the
> needs of providers (they get to control "their" data) but it does nothing
> users (who have to search across multiple, often incompatible resources to
> find what they need).
> If you want further evidence, consider the success of NCBI where primary
> data (sequences), a unified taxonomic classification, and the scientific
> literature are aggregated in one place. Anybody want to argue that a
> distributed model would work better? That genomics would be better if NCBI
> didn't exist?
> I suspect the unsatisfactory state of taxonomic (and other biodiversity)
> databases will persist until we switch from trying to keep providers happy
> trying to giving users with the data and services they need.
> Regards
> Rod
> ---------------------------------------------------------
> Roderic Page
> Professor of Taxonomy
> Institute of Biodiversity, Animal Health and Comparative Medicine College
> Medical, Veterinary and Life Sciences Graham Kerr Building University of
> Glasgow Glasgow G12 8QQ, UK
> Email: r.page at bio.gla.ac.uk
> Tel: +44 141 330 4778
> Fax: +44 141 330 2792
> Skype: rdmpage
> Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/rdmpage
> Twitter: http://twitter.com/rdmpage
> Blog: http://iphylo.blogspot.com
> Home page: http://taxonomy.zoology.gla.ac.uk/rod/rod.html
> Citations:
> http://scholar.google.co.uk/citations?hl=en&user=4Z5WABAAAAAJ
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