[Taxacom] Global biodiversity databases

Dave Roberts workpackage6 at gmail.com
Thu Aug 9 03:06:59 CDT 2012

Dear Paul,

do you think it realistic that we can raise the quality of the data significantly across the board?  Quality is about fitness-for-purpose [1].

I hope that by linking the many resources we will achieve the sort of strength that a rope gets from its many individual strands.  The key is not to rely upon any individual strand, but to twist them together in a clever way to give a robust result.

I think Rich is spot on here but his simple sentence encompasses a seriously non-trivial effort.  Its a thread emerging in the White Paper on biodiversity informatics:


Cheers, Dave

[1] "Researchers typically build databases the quickest way they know how, without necessarily considering whether they will work with other databases."  Heidi Ledford, Nature 25 June 09, p1048.
On 9 Aug 2012, at 08:34, Paul van Rijckevorsel wrote:

> From: "Richard Pyle" <deepreef at bishopmuseum.org>
> Sent: Tuesday, August 07, 2012 6:57 PM
>    [...] I think the key is building infrastructures that
>> allow existing databases to become more tightly integrated.
>   [...]
>>> Question 4: Which existing initiative currently comes closest to what you
>>> would ideally like to see?
>> Almost all of them. What we need to do now is make them all work together
>> seamlessly.
> ***
> I would say that the key issue is data (/ information) quality.
> There is a saying "a chain is only as strong as the weakest
> link", and to the end user this may well apply to data linking.
> Digging up every error ever made and linking to it, thus
> bringing it back into circulation, will confuse the end user
> no end.
> Data quality and quality of linking are linked issues.
> Paul

Dr D.McL. Roberts,        Tel: +44 (0)20 7942 5086
Dept. Zoology,             Fax: +44 (0)20 7942 5054
The Natural History Museum,
Cromwell Road,
London        SW7 5BD
Great Britain             Email: dmr at nomencurator dot org
Web page:
"You can't just ask customers what they want and then try and give it to them.  By the time you get it built, they'll want something new." [Steve Jobs, quoted in The Guardian, Technology Section, 25 June 09].

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