[Taxacom] Online taxonomy meeting at the Linnean Society of London

Charles Stirton chstirton at gmail.com
Wed Jun 20 03:17:16 CDT 2012

Ian Kitching" i.kitching at nhm.ac.uk wrote Subject: [Taxacom] Online taxonomy
meeting at the Linnean Society of London,20 September 2012


Is the Internet really making taxonomic information more accessible to its
many actual or potential users? Certainly much effort is being made to put
such content online, but how effective are we in achieving this end? This
one-day meeting, with its line-up of international speakers, aims to provide
an update on progress. It will feature a number of substantive online
taxonomy initiatives and a critical review of the current position. The
meeting will address the question of whether users' needs are being met and
will conclude with a talk (also serving as an Evening Lecture) on the use of
informatics in related disciplines. The event should appeal to all producers
and users of taxonomic data.

For the programme and registration form see:




This is an excellent idea and quite relevant to where taxonomy and
systematics might be heading. However, it seems  disappointing  that in an
age of expensive travel, recession, Skype, TED talks, online conferencing,
etc. that meetings such as this are not now actually interactive and online.
I would love to attend this meeting but I am abroad doing fieldwork on this
date so cannot be in London. I am sure that there are many people who would
also have wanted to attend but either cannot afford to travel to London or
who live  nowhere near London. Living in Bath it costs me an average of £100
just to travel to London meetings.


While I congratulate the organisers for their initiative and foresight in
holding this meeting may I also encourage them to explore either placing the
video talks on line post the event (as in TED talks) or make it active on
line during the event (live streaming). If it was also in time online then
online participants could participate by posing  questions to  speakers for
the discussion  times. These techniques are now common place and  widely
used in business so are neither technically onerous nor costly to manage. I
regularly use conference and video calls in my business (between 3 countries
with different time zones). Perhaps the Linnean Society, of which I am a
member, and the Natural History Museum, might  explore making their future
talks and conferences also available online so others can also benefit
rather and even participate. In these difficult times financially this makes
a lot of sense, is good for the global climate, and opens up new avenues for


Finally, it reminds me of the story in the 19080s (possibly apocryphal?)
where the two leading world lemur experts who were working  in Northern
Madagascar doing field work were either not invited or did not know of the
IUCN meeting on Isle St. Marie in N. Madagascar which was discussing the
conservation of Lemurs in Madagascar.  I am sure there are people working in
the online taxonomy field who could contribute but either cannot afford to
travel to it or are away at the time, or just don’t know about it.


Has anyone out there had experience of online conferences. I would love to
hear your experience.




Prof. Charles Stirton

Honorary Research Associate

Botany Department

University of Cape Town

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South Africa

Tel: 021-650-3725

Cell: 07294-03692

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