[Taxacom] e-publishing and the "taxonomic impediment"

Ken Kinman kinman at hotmail.com
Tue Sep 4 21:58:26 CDT 2012


Hi Stephen,       Unfortunately this is that way it has always been with anything relating to economics and wealth accumulation.  The rich get richer and most everyone else might get a few crumbs from their table (including many of those who actually devote their lives to conservation sensu lato).  Not that publishers (and their investors) are the richest of the rich, but among biological matters, they seem to be derive the the biggest financial benefits from such research compared to many of the taxonomists they derive their wealth from.
        Sort of like the bigger matter of Wall Street's long history of milking the hard work of the larger middle class (directly or more recently through taxpayer bailouts).  It's trickle up, not trickle down, and it has generally ALWAYS been that way from the very earliest periods of "civilization".  Not that there are not "leeches" among the lower classes in modern times, but it takes a huge number of them to equal the blood sucked out by the small numbers of big corporate welfare beneficiaries.  It's the hard work of the middle class that really keep things going, and these days they have to face leeches among both those that are richer and poorer.  Thus the battle in the U.S. Presidential election which the middle class should fear the most, a hundred thousand very rich leeches or several million poor leeches. Either way, the middle class ends up supporting people who don't deserve it on both sides, and either way the middle class gets the shaft.   
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> Date: Tue, 4 Sep 2012 18:44:30 -0700
> From: stephen_thorpe at yahoo.co.nz
> To: taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu
> Subject: [Taxacom] e-publishing and the "taxonomic impediment"
> 
> Hello Taxacomers,
> I am at a bit of a loss to know how the advent of e-only publication in zoology is supposed to help reduce the "taxonomic impediment", despite the apparent claims by the ICZN that it will help to do so, and, indeed, they make this sound like the primary motivation, with just one or two commentators making brief note of the fact that it may also be a little bit good economically for publishers (i.e., "the paper impediment to (profitable) publishing"). So, what is the so-called "taxonomic impediment"? As I understand it, it refers to difficulties for doing certain sorts of biology (e.g. conservation, ecology, etc.) due to the fact that so many species are still so poorly documented or undocumented (i.e. undescribed/unidentifiable) taxonomically. If this is what it is, then the implicit claim being made in support of e-only publishing in zoology is that with paper out of the way, the way is clear for a significant increase in the rate of new species
>  descriptions and/or taxonomic revisions. The problem, as I see it, with this claim, is that I don't think it will make the slightest bit of difference to the rate of description/revision. I don't think it will make any real difference at all to taxonomists, only to publishers. The rate of taxonomy is not limited, I suggest, by the rate at which publishers can churn out hard copy. Rather, it is limited by several other factors, such as the amount of funding available for taxonomy, the number of active taxonomists (these things are probably linked), etc.
> Cheers,
> Stephen
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