[Taxacom] pro-iBioshphere project Web Site launched

John Noyes j.noyes at nhm.ac.uk
Thu Nov 8 03:32:48 CST 2012


Dear Hannu,

Automated digitisation of specimens is about as useful as a chocolate tee pot where smaller specimens are concerned. This probably would include more than half of all insects, most fungi, etc. Herbarium sheets, larger lepidopterans might be OK. It is the smaller species where 99% of the effort is required, but it is for the larger species where most of the effort is being directed. I doubt whether things will change because when projects are funded results are needed and results are easiest to achieve where the "going" is easiest.

I would estimate that to do decent, usable digital images of just the primary types held for one relatively small group of insects (Chalcidoidea) in this museum (Natural History Museum, London) would take one person 35 years using the very best equipment that is currently available. That simply cannot be automated (yet at least). I would suspect that this would be the case for the greater proportion of insects because of their small size and characters that are used for taxonomic separation.

John

John Noyes
Scientific Associate
Department of Entomology
Natural History Museum
Cromwell Road
South Kensington
London SW7 5BD 
UK
jsn at nhm.ac.uk
Tel.: +44 (0) 207 942 5594
Fax.: +44 (0) 207 942 5229
 
Universal Chalcidoidea Database (everything you wanted to know about chalcidoids and more):
www.nhm.ac.uk/chalcidoids 
-----Original Message-----
From: taxacom-bounces at mailman.nhm.ku.edu [mailto:taxacom-bounces at mailman.nhm.ku.edu] On Behalf Of Hannu Saarenmaa
Sent: 07 November 2012 18:03
To: TAXACOM at MAILMAN.NHM.KU.EDU
Subject: Re: [Taxacom] pro-iBioshphere project Web Site launched

Contrasting infrastructure vs content is an interesting question.  Lets 
consider the cost of digitising those 2-3 billion specimens in world's 
biological collections.  It is an effort of 100,000 person years, or an 
order of magnitude more.  The cost you can calculate from knowing that a 
person can on average digitise 100 specimens in a day.  Our automated 
digitisation line can do 1000, see www.digitarium.fi/en  But still...

This announcement is from an EU project.  The EU does not support 
digitisation, as it is seen as a national responsibility.  That is a 
shame, but understandable, given the magnitude of the task.  In the new 
whitepaper for the European Commission on biodiversity informatics this 
view will be challenged, though.  See
http://vbrant.eu/sites/vbrant.eu/files/BiodivInfoCommunityDraft_v04.pdf

Some countries like the Netherlands, Norway, USA have started big 
digitisation programmes.  We need to see more such initiatives, as 
digitalisation is a big change factor in society.  But I do agree that 
an e-infrastructure is only as good as the content it moves.

Hannu Saarenmaa

On 2012-11-06 16:01, Chris Thompson wrote:
> Wonderful, Donat,
>
> Your answer is perfect although Paul did not really frame his question
> properly.
>
> This is another example of waste, re-inventing the IT / computer software
> instead of investing in scientific content.
>
> For more than a half century, since computers first became accessible, IT
> has continually got large sums for as you wrote
> " to produce more efficiently, richer and easier accessible open access
> content ..."
>
> but nothing really has gone into developing that "content " as the
> underlying assumption is taxonomic content is FREE!
>
> Check out the old article "Why Museum computer projects fail" in Museum News
> 1981, vol. 59 (4): 40-49. Nothing has changed.
>
> The Public would be better informed if funds were invested in CONTENT, new
> and enhanced observations of our natural world, so we can make better
> decisions about what is driving things like climate change, loss of
> biodiversity and even the one no one speaks of "whether we generating NEW
> biodiversity."
>
> But instead, a few more dollars / euros will be wasted on "new technology"
> to better deliver the old content.
>
> Oh, well ...
>
> Sincerely,
>
> Chris
>
> from home
>
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Donat Agosti
> Sent: Tuesday, November 06, 2012 6:28 AM
> To: 'Paul Kirk' ; TAXACOM at MAILMAN.NHM.KU.EDU
> Subject: Re: [Taxacom] pro-iBioshphere project Web Site launched
>
> Hi Paul
>
> It is not about creating another database, encyclopedia but figuring out
> what new technological and conceptual  possibilities and ideas are emerging
> that could be used, that need be tweeked to produce more efficiently, richer
> and easier accessible open access content hopefully  reaching beyond the
> traditional users of our publications, aka biodiversity knowledge management
> system. Hopefully, you will be able to agree to the outcome that the EU
> funders look forwards to make decisions that suit our community. The best
> way of course is, if you participate in the workshops and contribute your
> experience and knowledge. Most of them are open and hopefully attract
> exactly people like you that are deeply emerged in and highly critical of
> this work.
>
> Cheers
>
> Donat
>
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Paul Kirk [mailto:p.kirk at cabi.org]
> Sent: Tuesday, November 06, 2012 2:43 PM
> To: Donat Agosti; TAXACOM at MAILMAN.NHM.KU.EDU
> Subject: RE: [Taxacom] pro-iBioshphere project Web Site launched
>
> Thanks Donat,
>
> WOW - one family out of 500 :-)
>
> Less than convinced.
>
> Paul
> ________________________________________
> From: Donat Agosti [agosti at amnh.org]
> Sent: 06 November 2012 10:40
> To: Paul Kirk; TAXACOM at MAILMAN.NHM.KU.EDU
> Subject: RE: [Taxacom] pro-iBioshphere project Web Site  launched
>
> Hi Paul
> No, fungi are not ignored. Some Russulaceae taxa will be part of a pilot
> study conducted as part of the project, as well as  some Bryophyta. Also,
> there is an effort made to emphasis mycrohizae relation in other pilots.
> All the best
> Donat
>
>
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Paul Kirk [mailto:p.kirk at cabi.org]
> Sent: Tuesday, November 06, 2012 1:58 PM
> To: Donat Agosti; TAXACOM at MAILMAN.NHM.KU.EDU
> Subject: RE: [Taxacom] pro-iBioshphere project Web Site launched
>
> Yet again the fungi are ignored in a major EU project ... at a time when the
> ash tree is being devastated across europe by an emergent fungal pathogen.
> When will botanist realize that plant do not have roots - they have
> mycorhizae? How can 'Data acquisition and curation' and 'Semantic mark-up'
> be carried out when a major branch on the tree of life is ignored?
>
> Paul M. Kirk
> Mycologist
> ________________________________________
> From: taxacom-bounces at mailman.nhm.ku.edu
> [taxacom-bounces at mailman.nhm.ku.edu] on behalf of Donat Agosti
> [agosti at amnh.org]
> Sent: 06 November 2012 08:51
> To: TAXACOM at MAILMAN.NHM.KU.EDU
> Subject: [Taxacom] pro-iBioshphere project Web Site  launched
>
> Pro-iBiosphere is a European Union  FP7 funded project to develop an outline
> of a future European open biodiversity knowledge management system. The
> Pro-iBiosphere project has been launched on September 1, 2012 for the period
> of 2 years addressing technical and semantic interoperability issues and
> challenges that will ultimately lead to a more efficient system of the
> management of biodiversity information.  For practical reasons and to
> demonstrate the functionality of the proposed ideas, the test beds are
> primarily the production of floras and faunas produced at the partner's
> institutions, how they can be linked to external datasets, and how the new
> information can be made more widely accessible.
>
> A series of open workshops will be help to discuss specific tasks in the
> envisioned system.
>
>
>
> Consortium partners are the Naturalis Leiden, the Royal Botanical Garden
> Kew, the National Botanic Garden Belgium,  the Botanic Garden and Botanical
> Museum Berlin-Dahlem, Sigma Orionis, Pensoft and Plazi.
>
>
>
> More information is available at http://www.pro-ibiosphere.eu/
>
>
>
> Donat Agosti
>
> Plazi / Pro-iBiosphere
>
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